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How Did Faulty Track Point Device Cause 6-Hour Train Service Disruption?

SMRT maintenance personnel working on the faulty track point device near Admiralty MRT station. (Images: SMRT/Facebook, SGTrains File)

SMRT maintenance personnel working on the faulty track point device near Admiralty MRT station. (Images: SMRT/Facebook, SGTrains File)

Commuters travelling on the North-South Line (NSL) on Wednesday (Feb 8) morning were hit by train service delays of up to 25 minutes, due to a faulty track point device near Admiralty MRT station.

What is a track point device and how can it cause a 6-hour train service disruption on the NSL when it goes out of working order?

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Faulty Track Point Device Disrupted North-South Line Train Services for 6 Hours

What is a Track Point Device?

A track point device (highlighted) at a track crossing. (Image: SGTrains)

A track point device (highlighted) at a track crossing. (Image: SGTrains)

A track point device – also known as a point machine or switch motor – is a mechanical machine installed at track crossings to guide the direction of a travelling train on whether it switches to an adjacent track or to continue its present direction.

These devices are commonly found near terminus stations or at the entrance/exit of turnback sidings and are usually controlled automatically through the line’s signalling system.

How can a Faulty Track Point Device cause disruption to train services?

A similar faulty track point device occurred between Jurong East and Clementi MRT stations on Sep 19, 2018. (Images: SMRT/Facebook)

A similar faulty track point device occurred between Jurong East and Clementi MRT stations on Sep 19, 2018. (Images: SMRT/Facebook)

A faulty track point device can be dangerous – because, in the worst-case scenario, if undetected, can send trains to an unauthorised section of track, leading to severe consequences like a derailment or collision.

Hence, when a track point device fault has been detected, trains are required to travel slower at the affected track crossing, to prepare for any unexpected situations.

Modern track point devices are fitted with interlocks and sensors which can inform the signalling system of the device’s proven actual position, thus eliminating severe safety issues.

What has SMRT done during this service disruption?

Free Bridging Bus Services due to train disruption on Jul 6, 2022. (Image: SMRT/Facebook)

Free Bridging Bus Services due to train disruption on Jul 6, 2022. (Image: SMRT/Facebook)

Rail operator SMRT said in a Facebook post that it detected a fault with the track point device at 6:45am, affecting commute between Woodlands and Yishun MRT stations.

It advised commuters to add at least 25 minutes of travelling time between the two stations and to use alternative transportation routes, such as the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL), to get to the city area.

Free bridging bus services were also deployed, and fares of regular bus services that travel between affected stations are made free of charge.

In an update, the operator said that the fault required its maintenance personnel to physically go onto the track to check, troubleshoot and remedy the faulty track point device.

It added that trains moved at a slow speed of five kilometres per hour, due to safety measures, compared to the usual 70 to 80 kilometres per hour during normal service.

SMRT had also deployed more staff to assist service ambassadors in managing the peak-hour crowds at affected MRT stations.

Train services returned to normal at 12:47pm, just over six hours after the track point device fault was first detected.



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Related Links
North-South Line – SGTrains
Train Service Status – SGTrains


External Links
“On 8 Feb at about 6.45am, a track point fault occurred on the North-South Line between Sembawang and Admiralty MRT stations.” – SMRT/Facebook [Accessed 08 Feb 2023]
Technical Officer Tan Thiam Lai, Signal Maintenance – SMRT [Accessed 08 Feb 2023]


Images: SMRT/Facebook, SMRT/Facebook, SMRT/Facebook, SGTrains File.
This article first appeared on SGTrains.

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Loh

I'm a train enthusiast who is broadly interested in the different means of technology which powers Singapore's train network.