SINGAPORE: SBS Transit has been fined S$400,000 by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for the train disruption along the North East Line (NEL) in March.
This is the first time that transport operator SBS Transit has been penalised.
LTA said the fine amount will be donated to the Public Transport Fund to help needy families with their transport fares.
On March 15, train services on the NEL were disrupted on both bounds between Dhoby Ghaut and HarbourFront stations for about 10 hours. More than 117,000 passengers were affected by the disruption.
LTA’s investigations found that the service disruption was caused by the snapping of a pair of stainless steel wires, which formed part of the counterweight systems holding in place overhead power lines that provide electricity to the trains.
The primary cause for the broken wires was corrosion.
Laboratory tests revealed that the majority of wire strands of the snapped wires had broken due to stress corrosion cracking. The cracks in the wire strands were due to contact with tunnel seepage water.
LTA’s findings further revealed that SBS Transit had not carried out immediate diversion or rectification works on tunnel leaks at the incident site, and was not sufficiently diligent in detecting and replacing the corroded wires.
The incident resulted in the breach of the Operating Performance Standard and the Code of Practice for the Maintenance of Structures in the Rapid Transit System.
Following the incident, SBS Transit immediately replaced the damaged wires with new stainless steel wires, checked through the counterweight wires of the entire NEL to ensure they were not damaged, tightened its maintenance regime and intensified its checks on the wires.
As a precautionary measure, SBS Transit also replaced wires where there were previous reports of tunnel water seepage.
LTA said SBS Transit could have been fined up to S$1 million per incident for failing to comply with the Operating Performance Standards and other regulatory requirements.
In assessing the penalty amount of S$400,000, LTA considered the facts of the case, severity of the incident and any relevant mitigating factors that may apply.
Commenting on the fine, Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport Cedric Foo said: "There is no point (in) having a framework if we don’t enforce it. If you look at the two major incidents in December, by SMRT, the PTO was fined a million dollars, for each incident.
"In this particular case, about 117,000 commuters were impacted over 10 hours. So the S$400,000 fine seems to be in the right ballpark."
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