A Singapore train collided with a stationary one, injuring 25 people and dealing another blow to a network that has faced public criticism in recent years for frequent breakdowns.
The accident, only the second rail collision in three decades, occurred near Joo Koon station in the western part of the city state Wednesday morning. Two employees of SMRT Corp. and 23 passengers sustained light to moderate injuries and were sent to two hospitals, the line’s operator SMRT and Singapore’s Land Transport Authority said in a statement.
The incident is the latest blemish in a city known for its efficiency, tree-lined highways and slick infrastructure. Singapore’s mass transit system has been strained as the population expanded, leading to multiple breakdowns and delays especially in the past six years, symptomatic of a learning curve the city faces as it upgrades infrastructure rapidly to cope with more people.
In the latest incident, a train stalled at Joo Koon station at 8:18 a.m., and a second one stopped behind it a minute later. The second train subsequently moved forward unexpectedly and “came into contact” with the first, according to the statement. SMRT and the transport authority said they are investigating the incident.
Singapore’s first train collision occurred Aug. 5, 1993, when an east-bound train stopped longer than scheduled at a station due to a technical fault and was then hit by another train, according to the National Library Board’s resources. The train, which comprised six carriages, had a full capacity of 1,800 passengers, 156 of whom were injured during the peak-hour collision.
SMRT operates the two oldest train lines in Singapore, North-South and East-West, as well as the newer Circle line. SBS Transit Ltd. runs the North East line and the newest Downtown line.
The companies have blamed signaling faults for most of the train disruptions and delays in recent years.
The worst glitches occurred in December 2011, delaying more than 200,000 people in the last weekend before the Christmas holiday, and led to the resignation of SMRT’s chief executive officer at the time. Subsequently, Lui Tuck Yew, the former transport minister who oversaw an expansion of the public-transportation network, left politics.