12/17/2011

It was not a crisis, or need not be

The North South Line breakdown was not meant to be a crisis. Some have called it the worst incident to have happened. Yes it was a major breakdown, but the worst is yet to come. How about two trains collided, trained jumps rail and smashes into the tunnel wall causing the wall to collapse, commuters injured and trapped, water flooding the tunnel with packed trains?

With the extensive network of trains running above and under the ground, breakdown is going to happen every now and then. It is unacceptable, but machines will have its wear and tear, there will be human errors in small little things like connecting a wrong wire or improper wiring, or power failure or something else.

What failed badly and turning a power failure into a fiasco is the poor execution of an emergency evacuation plan. Presumably there is a plan to evacuate the commuters in a situation like this, then the failure is leadership. Who is to decide that it is a crisis and the emergency plan be activated? Apparently everyone was trying to do something but evacuating the commuters was not in their minds.

And to make matter worst, the backup power supply did not come in or was found grossly inadequate. A 45 min UPS unit is really much less than that as events would have to unfold and by the time management decides that it is serious, at least half an hour would have elapsed. The 45 min window must be a critical factor for the emergency team to work on in a situation when the train is packed with people and life could be at stake.

And I think they discovered that the emergency ventilation was also grossly under provided given the complaints of difficulties in breaking. If normal people have difficulties, the sick, the young and old would be in deeper trouble. The ventilation must be good enough to keep a fully packed train at peak hours for at least a couple of hours safe before rescue arrived. If management consciously provided a 45 min backup system, the emergency plan must take that into account to start evacuating people much earlier before the backup system dies.

I am not going to suggest that train drivers be renamed train captains like pilots and be trained and proficient to handle an emergency like this. But they must be trained and tasked to take control of such situation to manage the commuters and take immediate safety precautions. Apparently they were sitting in their cabins waiting for instructions and leaving the frightened and worried passengers on their own.

When the lighting was out, when the passengers were having difficulties breathing, the most stupid thing was to tell the commuters that there was ventilation as the ventilation was either not working or inadequate and people were suffocating. People would not die just because the train is not moving. People will die if they cannot breath even inside the safety of a train.

The whole mess could be avoided if someone had decided to activate the evacuation procedure early and get the commuters out safely. The delay to act was the main factor that contributed to the crisis and endangered the safety and lives of the commuters. The power failure was just a power failure.

The event could be just an exciting experience like an emergency drill if handled correctly, efficiently and timely. And the commuters would just have a great story to tell, without fear of anything worst, except some inconvenience.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

See. I told you so!

Simple operational problem involving 4 trains.
Blur like sotong.

And still want to talk about Singapore going to nuclear power for electricity.

These turkeys cannot be trusted with operating a nuclear power station in Singapore.
Vote wisely in GE 2016.

See google links below for Singapore's nuclear vision.


Source:
http://www.google.com.sg/#hl=en&cp=17&gs_id=2p&xhr=t&q=singapore+nuclear&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&source=hp&pbx=1&oq=singapore+nuclear&aq=0&aqi=g4&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=d73d9f7510af47b3&biw=1280&bih=570

Anonymous said...

Turning a train breakdown into a near crisis. What a joke. Incompetence?

Anonymous said...

When the media and dignitary are invited to drills, conducted by local authority or in joint exercises with foreign organization, everything are presented perfectly. AND the Media will sing praises to the sky about efficiency and effectiveness!

WHEN IT COMES TO AN ACTUAL/REAL SITUATION, THERE ARE SO MANY SHORTCOMINGS THAT WILL LIKELY LEAD TO DIRE CONSEQUENCE. And what will the local media, which is Government controlled, do???

patriot

Anonymous said...

Will there ever be a straw that will finally break the camel's back ?? Sinkies are very resilient one .... I mean daft and meek ... just you wait 2016 .... sinkie -> sunkie

Matilah_Singapura said...

When you are several thousand kms away, I call this cartoon-like entertainment. Shakespeare called it "a comedy of errors". A popular modern example would be Inspector Clouseu in The Pink Panther.

I have to agree with anon 907. These are the same motherfuckers who'll be running and overseeing Singapore's nuclear program.

Ka-boom! Game over folks!

Anonymous said...

rex comments as follows,

LEt me play Devil's Advocate.(The Devil is of course SMRT and its incompetent and obonoxious CEO and its impotent bosses who dont even know understand the problems and have no leadership qualities at all).

Issue 1. a plan to evacuate the commuters...failure is leadership. Who is to decide...evacuating the commuters was not in their minds.

comment: According to what i read the SMRt was undecided whther to evacuate i.e. "detrain" or try to repower somehow and let the trains go to the next station. Of course it is difficult to decide, to detrain or to fix the problem in situ. According to the papers 3 of the 4 trains managed to move to the next station. I dunno how the power came back if the rails were broken!! The 4th could not, so it had to be detrained (evacuation). Technically this is reasonable explanaion. What failed, is that the commuters should have been made clearly aware of the above strategic considerations in situ. That is to say, they have to announce to the trapped people that the smrt is trying to move the train first, and only last resort, evacuate. It turned out not too bad, 3 out of 4 trains avoided evacuation resulting in less chaos as would have been the case if all 4 trains are evacuated.

Issue 2.... the backup power supply did not come in

Comment: If the power rail contact is broken, then all power must be supplied from inside the train not from land. That means every train must have battery pack powerful enough to MOVE a fully loaded train, as well to keep the ventilation and lights. These battery packs need continuous trickle charge from the rail supplies. ARE ALL THE SMRT TRAINS equipped with such charger and heavy duty batteries? I honestly think that no battery can ever move the entire packed train of thousands of kg., on its own. It has to be from the 415V 3 phase supply from the rail. I honestly think that batteries are not carried on board each train of the network. It would be too heavy, and a lot of space need to be allocated to the batteries on board each train, even if such powerful batteries are available. So in short, if the power is derailed, good luck to you, there is NO UPS on board. Could SMRT confirm this?

Issue 3: the emergency ventilation was also grossly under provided..

comment: emergency fans work only with power supply. As conjectured above, power must be within each carriage, and if there are no batteries carried on board each train, then there is no ventilation once the power rail is disconnected from the train.

Issue 4: ...they were sitting in their cabins waiting for instructions and leaving the frightened and worried passengers on their own.

comment: Taking a train is like investing your money. Walk in with your eyes big big. You take the risk. There is no backup, just like investing in minibonds. Buyers beware!

Issue 5: when the lighting was out, when the passengers were having difficulties breathing, the most stupid thing was to tell the commuters that there was ventilation

Comment: I give up. I cannot defend the Devil in this last issue.

rex

Anonymous said...

Now that SMRT, the Media and Singaporeans had better picture of what had happened, it is time for Singaporeans to think hard about their livings and their live.

AND how much confidence should we have with our leadership? Those who travel, work widely and long abroad may like to provide some comparisons.

Anonymous said...

I lived and worked for long time overseas and in many countries, regions and continents. Singapore MRT system is new and so considered quite good.

The key issue is that the government is lack of accountability and transparency. Also, abuse of meritocracy is a phenomenon as a result of being not transparent. One can get any data or information on government website unlike in Singapore everything seems to be top secret to the government and civil service.

In many advanced countries, including Hong Kong, such SMRT incident will trigger public inquiry to be accountable (responsible person to resign) and open to the public. I do not think Singapore will have such democratic activity.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right!

A minor disruption like stalled trains and they're already proven inept.

A major calamity will see them melting away.

They have been tested and found wanting, absolutely wanting.

Just do the honourable and right thing.

Resign.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Actually there is grounds for civil action or even charges of criminal negligence.

Resignation may not be enough. Perhaps being sued in civil court might be appropriate.

If there is criminality, perhaps serving time in jail will offer an opportunity for individuals to "reflect" on their actions -- or lack of it.

Public enquiry? Hell yeah!

Legal action? Hell yeah!

More noise from the customers? Hell fucking yeah!

Legal point: Contract law. Customers and providers of said service are locked into a binding contract. Provider of service is obliged not to place customers lives at risk, and ensure adequate provisions for "contingencies".

Sue, sue sue!!

Anonymous said...

Blogsphere is near boiling point . But guess what... vent for you like. Ah Gong knows , years of brain washing has ensured sinkies will continue to do whatever matters to sinkies most : eat , shit and shopping . Don't believe ? Today MRT still crowded what ....

Anonymous said...

This is one of your best written blog entry.

Anonymous said...

Ya lah, everyone screaming for blood. Wait till a real crisis when there is blood on the ground and bodies everywhere then they will know.

Anonymous said...

even got blood in the streets/tunnel ... u think a sinkie would suddenly wake up ?? perrrrlissss

Anonymous said...

Ref rex's comments:

Issue 3
--------
I can accept rex's argument that it's not practical or possible for battery to move the train.

But surely it does not require a lot of batteries to provide ventilation and lighting?

What about having windows that can be opened manually? Or emergency lights that can be switched on manually and is powered by Duracell batteries?

Issue 4
---------
Train drivers waiting for instructions.

This is uniquely Singapore. And I blame the leadership for not training and empowering their staff.
(Compare McDonald's front-line staff with any other front-line staff in any industry. This is what training and empowerment can do.)

But it's a Singapore problem.

I still remember redbean saying we must await the return of our Prime Minister before we know what to do with the YPAP blogger who made racist remarks about a religious school for young children.

But with our type of leadership, it's better to act blur & stupid ... especially if you are not a scholar or elite.
You will never be given credit for any ideas you have. Worse, they will see you as a threat to the existing system.

Anonymous said...

THE GOVT BOUGHT THE CHEAPEST TRAIN AVAILABLE -WITHOUT STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES SUCH AS (IMO) BATTERY TO MOVE THE STALLED TRAIN TO THE NEAREST STATION, TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY SAFETY LIGHTING IN TRAIN AND TO PROVIDE EMERGENCY SUPPLY OF OXYGEN ETC.

SANS ALL THESE ESSENTIAL FEATURES THE DEAL WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH CHEAPER.

IS IT TOO CYNICAL TO ALSO THINK THAT SOMETHING WENT INTO SOME ONE'S POCKET TOO? JUST THINK SLA KOH!

Anonymous said...

"Yes it was a major breakdown, but the worst is yet to come."

Bingo ! What do you think SMRT stands for now ?

SMRT = Sustain More Ridiculous Troubles

Anonymous said...

Will the old fart come out and give highfalutin lecture again ?

"Caveat Emptor. You board the train with your eyes wide open !"

Anonymous said...

Will the old fart says

“Singaporeans expect everything to
be perfect, which we try to do. But some
things are beyond (that) — it’s an act of God, unless you want to lose MRT”

"No amount of engineering
can prevent MRT breakdown"

Anonymous said...

"And still want to talk about Singapore going to nuclear power for electricity."

Of course, they will just drill and sing the praise on how efficient and effective they are on the nuclear crisis, supported by the govt media. But when real disaster strikes and people turn into deformed monsters and zombies, you find those MIW, PM, CEO in charge of nuclear, performing disappearing act, eg Going for holiday the next day after crisis happen...

Anonymous said...

business opportunity: bring out the bicyles. raise the price of bicycles.

hey, you electric bike sellers, where are the ads extolling the virtues of your product?

got three breakdowns in four days. got leaking train station ceilings. taxi fares up. not enuff buses in case of breakdowns. you electric bike sellers bodoh or what? waiting for orders from the top/official annct issit?

agongkia said...

This incident is nothing unusual to me as I have expected it to happen one day.And warn you,this is not going to be the last as far as safety is concern..
Top talent like that,MP and NCMP all like that.Wayang and talk about this for their own benefit only.Why can't they have the foresight and talk about safety measure before the incident and instead ,like many,only know how to kpkb after it happen.
Will I be victimise if I offer them suggestion on safety?

Anonymous said...

you scholar?
what suggestion you going to give?
bad suggestion, they will laugh at you, good idea will be stolen and get you into trouble for threatening their privileged status.

agongkia said...

anon 4.33
hehe..I share your thinking..
I have that something special and can tell before disaster strike.My contribution can even change 60 percent into 90 percent or to 40 percent.Dun think I gong gong.My 'sick sense' tells me someone quietly waiting to kapo my idea .
Some idea already stolen but its fine so long as it is good for the society.
I am not scholar but is capable of producing many ,if they allow polygamy.
And one do not need to be a scholar to have good judgement la.Scholar may not necessary mean they got brain.
Sorry ,a bit boastful today and sometimes I do wonder myself whether I need to go IMH.hehe..

Anonymous said...

WP expressing concern over the train breakdowns and the fear of deeperinfrastructure or technical problem.

What about the recruitment process of super talents for CEOs jobs? Maybe they need to recruit a true FT from the US or EU. HK or Jap FT still one grade lower. There are just no local talents for these highly technical and complex jobs.

Anonymous said...

Temasek Review is back! http://www.tremeritus.com/

Anonymous said...

Very soon, such train breakdowns will be delegated to the monotonous chanting of 'you cannot expect no breakdowns' just like the 'persistent floods' that has become the 'normal' thing after much hallabuloo.

It is just a matter of repeating a few more times and it becomes tolerable and no more a problem for the Government.

Anonymous said...

There is a petition asking for Saw to resign. She said she is not going to. So what can anyone do?

I thought she is an employee and it is the employer to decide if she should go. Now she is saying that to go or not to go she will decide.

Matilah_Singapura said...

At one time SIA/ Silk Air had an unblemised safety record.

Shit will happen, eventually. There might be impropriety and negligence involved. But pure dumb luck also causes disasters.