SINGAPORE: A fire broke out in the tunnel of Newton MRT station on Wednesday morning, disrupting train services on the North—South Line for more than two hours.
The Land Transport Authority said the fire was a small and localised one. Train operator SMRT later revealed that the fire was due to an electrical short circuit that caused a cable to burn.
No one was injured but some 15,000 commuters’ travel plans were disrupted.
Smoky scene greeted morning commuters at Newton MRT station after a fire broke out in the train tunnel at around 9.05am.
Mr Victor Tan, one of the commuters at Newton MRT station, recalling the incident, said: "There was an announcement saying that there would be a five—minute delay due to an "incident".
"We were quite calm about it because we weren’t really sure that it was a fire. We only confirmed it when we left the station and we asked the station master about it."
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was immediately activated.
According to SMRT, the incident was caused by a cable that caught fire in the tunnel.
SMRT said the fire was initially put out by one of its station staff with a fire extinguisher but the fire reignited, and smoke from the tunnel spread to the station platform.
SCDF officers were on hand to help put out the fire. They said the fire was located about five metres from the platform and it was eventually extinguished at about 10.05am.
The fire disrupted northbound train services from Newton to Toa Payoh station.
At 10.06am, services from Marina Bay to Toa Payoh MRT station were also stopped so that the damaged cable could be removed.
SMRT said all northbound trains were turned around at Newton station.
SMRT’s executive vice president of Trains, Khoo Hean Siang, said the incident could have been due to cable insulation issues.
He said: "Because of the heavy rain these few days, water could have seeped into the tunnel. ... It could be that the water seeped into the cable and caused this problem to occur. We are sending the cable to the lab to carry out a check (on) whether or not the insulation could have deteriorated."
Mr Khoo added that a similar incident occurred at Dhoby Ghaut MRT station in 2007.
He said checks on the stretch of cables at Newton MRT station were conducted in December last year but no abnormalities were found.
Southbound train services towards Marina Bay were not affected.
Free bus bridging services were also activated.
The first shuttle bus arrived at Newton MRT station about half an hour after the incident occurred —— at about 9.35am.
SMRT said 59 buses provided transport between the affected areas.
Full train services resumed at around 11.30am.
SMRT said passengers who had their journeys disrupted can get a refund within the next two weeks.
Overnight, SMRT will also replace the cables at Newton MRT station after train service hours.
It will also carry out further checks on all its underground cables, which will be completed in a week.
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