Everything About the Joo Koon MRT Collision Explanation in 60 Sec

Just yesterday (16 Nov), something pretty shocking happened: an SMRT train collided with a stationary train, causing 27 commuters and 2 staff members to be injured.

Naturally, it became the topic of the day, churning out on almost every local newspaper in Singapore, including new media sites.

But there’s just a small piece missing from the puzzle.

What was the cause?

10 hours after the incident occurred, the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) deputy chief executive Chua Chong Kheng finally answers the golden question.

It was apparently due to a fault in the East-West Line’s new signalling system.

What exactly happened?

According to Straits Times, software intended to rectify a problem in the East-West Line’s new signalling system had been “inadvertently removed”, and this resulted in the collision between the two trains.

Lest you’re not aware, “inadvertently” means “accidentally” or “unintentionally”.

LTA’s deputy chief executive Chua Chong Kheng also said that it’s investigating the reason behind the “removal”, together with operator SMRT and Thales, the French supplier of the signalling system.

Going by earlier tests, an interruption in communications between onboard computers on a train would cause it to be identified as a three-car train, rather than one with six cars. This was evidently problematic, as distances could be misjudged, and trains could unsuspectingly hit each other.

Basically, the train behind “thought” the train in front is shorter, so it moves forward to shorten the distance between the two trains.

To correct this false identification, a software protection module was specially developed by Thales.

However, when a train chanced upon a faulty track circuit yesterday, this particular software module was “forcibly removed”.

Later on, another train behind would “misjudge the distance” between the two carriages, and collide with it.

It’s unexpected.

According to Thales, the glitch has never happened before. The French company has installed signalling systems for metros in cities such as Hong Kong and Vancouver.

Mr Chua said that a similar type of signalling system, which has been installed on the North-South line this year, has “proven to be working very well”.

So far, only the Tuas West Extension is using Thales’ new signalling system.

The rest of the EW Line is on a 30-year-old system, although there are plans to convert it to the new signalling system as well.

While the fault has certainly raised suspicions, Mr Chua said that it’s still too early to determine a change in plans.

But come to think of it…a new system that’s only active in one line leading to an accident? Hmmm…

What are the benefits of the new signalling system?

The new signalling system permits trains to come in at up to 100-second intervals, instead of the existing 120 seconds.

That would mean… faster train services?


But please, no collisions. We would rather reach work later than reach the hospital sooner.

There was a separate signalling problem

In case you’re wondering why the first train had stayed stationary at the station, it was actually because a separate signalling problem had occurred.

Because of the fault, passengers had to alight. The train itself was due to move off from the station.

It evidently didn’t happen fast enough.

What now?

While details are unclear, investigations are definitely ongoing.

So for the time being, we just gotta keep our fingers crossed that it will be boring old Singapore again. Boring, yes, but safe.

Because honestly, this wasn’t what I meant when I said that I wanted to live life on the edge.

I would rather live life behind the yellow line.


Since you’re here, why not watch a video about an NTU student who went all out to impress his crush, only to end up in…tragedy? Here, watch it and do remember to share it (and also subscribe to Goody Feed YouTube channel)!

This article was first published on goodyfeed.com

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