July 7, 2015 / 3:22 PM / 3 years ago

Singapore's subway suffers massive breakdown in rush hour

SINGAPORE, July 7 (Reuters) - Two main subway lines in Singapore broke down simultaneously, for the first time ever, on Tuesday evening, stranding tens of thousands of commuters during rush hours.

The service disruption highlighted the urgency for the government to fix the train system to appease the population already irked by frequent train service problems.

“I am extremely concerned with today’s incident,” said Lui Tuck Yew, Singapore’s Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Defence, on his FaceBook page, apologising for the first simultaneous breakdown of North-South and East-West Lines.

“I am sorry that so many commuters experienced massive disruptions to their journeys during the evening peak hours.”

Local media reported that the lights and air-conditioning system shut down in some trains. Social media were flooded with photos of long taxi lines and crowded bus stops along the train routes.

A power surge had caused the protective relays to be activated, leading to a shut-down of power across the two lines, said Chew Men Leong, chief executive of Singapore’s Land Transport Authority, citing preliminary investigations in a statement posted on the agency’s FaceBook page.

Train service on both lines resumed late at night at slower speed, the LTA said.

Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system moved an average 2.8 million passengers a day in 2014, or more than half of the country’s 5.5 million population.

The MRT system, with its first line starting operation in 1987, had been widely praised for its efficiency and cleanliness. Though a number of major breakdowns since 2011 and increasing crowdedness on the trains have made the system a target for bitter criticisms from Singaporeans.

SMRT Corporation Ltd and SBS Transit Ltd are the two operators of Singapore’s public transit system.

Reporting by Rujun Shen; editing by Ralph Boulton

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