Friday, 17 August 2012

Be grateful for goodwill

SINGAPORE: Transport operator SBS Transit has apologised for the longer-than-expected delay in the North East Line (NEL) train service on Friday.

The delay was caused by a power supply fault in the morning and a subsequent signalling fault in the afternoon.

In the morning, SBS Transit informed commuters that train services on NEL had been delayed by an average of 20 minutes in both directions.

But many commuters complained the wait was about double that time.

One commuter told Channel NewsAsia: "The announcement kept going on that (train service) is delayed for 10 to 15 minutes where (in fact) from Hougang to Chinatown, it has already been delayed for 40 minutes to almost an hour."

The commuter added: "(SBS Transit's) announcement should at least be factual and give people a choice. If the delay is much longer, people will have the choice of not cooping inside the train and they have the choice whether to use other means of transport."

Commuters shared their experiences online, with many asking why the information fed to them was not accurate.

Some were frustrated that they were in the trains for almost an hour, and pointed out that the trains stayed at every station for 10 minutes.

One passenger told Channel NewsAsia that he was late for work and ended up leaving his job earlier than planned.

The passenger said: "I come in late at around 9.20am and was late for around 20 minutes. I told (my employer) he should not deduct from my pay. But he said I was working at an hourly-rate and we started arguing. Because of the (train delay), I lost my job!"

SBS Transit acknowledged that there was "definitely a delay of more than 15 minutes" at certain points along the day.

This was because it had to shut down a section of the tunnel. This meant the trains could only turn along at one point in the tunnel instead of two normally.

SBS Transit's vice president of corporate communications, Tammy Tan, said: "I think we could have communicated better definitely and we will learn from that. The 15 minutes was an average delay expected but we could have given a better gauge and we will certainly do it better next time round. We do apologise for that."

SBS Transit said it discovered a traction power fault at about 6am on Friday but it decided not to shut down the entire line as it would have been "very disruptive."

A separate signalling fault was later discovered at about 2.45pm.

SBS Transit said it has since rectified the signalling fault but not the traction power fault.

It added that it will rectify the traction power fault at the end of service on Friday.

Ms Tan also explained why SBS Transit did not activate free shuttle bus services earlier this morning.

She said bus bridging services are not offered when there is actually a train service.

But because of goodwill, SBS Transit decided to deploy free bus shuttles during the evening peak hour to make sure that commuters are not inconvenienced unduly.
Separately, the Land Transport Authority said it is monitoring the incident very closely.

LTA added it will send a team of engineers to help SBS Transit supervise the repair works.

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