Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 11/06/2012 02:03 | By Channel NewsAsia

SMRT station manager takes stand in Thai teen’s lawsuit

SMRT station manager takes stand in Thai teen’s lawsuit

SMRT station manager takes stand in Thai teen’s lawsuit

SINGAPORE : The safety of rail commuters continued to be the focus in the ongoing hearing of a lawsuit filed by a Thai teenager against rail operator SMRT and the Land Transport Authority.

Ms Pen—Eakchanasak Nitcharee lost both her legs in April last year after she fell onto the train tracks at Ang Mo Kio station.

She maintains that she was standing behind the yellow line at the time of her fall.

Taking the stand on Monday was Ang Mo Kio station manager Wong Koon Sai.

At one point of the hearing, Mr Wong told Ms Nitcharee’s lawyer that safety is a responsibility shared by both the transport operators and the commuters.

This prompted Judicial Commissioner Vinodh Coomaraswamy to ask Mr Wong what he meant by "everybody’s responsibility" and what more commuters can do to ensure their safety, other than standing still behind the yellow safety line.

Mr Wong was stumped by the question and took a while before he said that commuters should perhaps try to stand further behind the yellow line, and help look out for other passengers who might not be behaving safely.

Mr Wong has worked for SMRT since 2001 but joined Ang Mo Kio station only two months before the incident.

Ms Nitcharee’s lawyer also questioned him as to whether any temporary barriers had been put up at the above—ground stations in response to repeated calls by Members of Parliament to prevent more incidents of people falling onto the tracks.

Mr Wong said that service ambassadors had been introduced at the stations to manage crowds, though none were present on the day of the incident as it was a Sunday and not considered to be a peak period.

He added that safety measures at all stations were also consistently reviewed.

The court also heard that none of the other passengers who witnessed the incident were asked to stay back to help with police investigations. The reason for this was not elaborated further in court.

Ms Nitcharee’s lawyer also asked whether there had been any discussions by SMRT to consider reducing the speed of the trains as they approached the platform.

The court heard from principal engineer Teo Kah Heng from SMRT’s maintenance division that the train was moving at a speed of 55km/h as it reached the tail wall and entered Ang Mo Kio station — a fixed speed that had been approved during testing and commissioning of the train.

Mr Teo said that he was not aware of any discussions that had taken place and added that it was beyond his job scope to know this.

He also noted that a signal stamp printout showed that the train’s emergency brakes had already been applied at some distance from the tail wall of Ang Mo Kio station, and that the train had no technical fault.

The trial continues.

— CNA/ms

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