8/01/2015

SMRT disruption – Commuters are so lucky

After the biggest train disruption in the history of SMRT, the original suspicion on the root cause of the problem was an ageing train system. And there were recommendations that it was time to replace the train system with a new system and have a fresh new start. A brand new system would likely to be free from breakdowns for the first 20 years. The present system is starting to breakdown after 30 years.

Thankfully  or not thankfully, the team of experts have found the root cause of the disruption. I quote from Business Times, 

‘LTA, SMRT and five overseas experts carried out comprehensive system-wide checks across more than 200 km of train track and components such as the third rail, power cables and the signalling system to identify the root cause of the disruption. They also checked all 141 trains and analysed train logs from the day of the incident.

Their conclusion: a confluence of factors triggered the incident.

In the tunnel between Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place, water was found dripping onto the third-rail cover near an insulator. Tests on a sample on the cover and on water collected from the tunnel leak found mineral deposits with a high chloride content. The presence of chloride on the insulator, coupled with a wet environment, would have significantly reduced the effectiveness of the insulator.’

Let me put it simply, rain water dripped on the third rail cover near an insulator, or was it over an insulator, and the water contained high level of chloride that caused a power leakage, reducing the effectiveness of the insulator.  And the solution,

‘To minimise the possibility of a similar recurrence, it has started replacing third-rail insulators, starting with those showing signs of electrical resistance weakness. The remaining insulators will be changed under a planned renewal of the third-rail system, to be completed by the first quarter of 2017.’

I confess that I am not an engineer and find it difficult to rationalise the solution to the cause of the problem. There was water seepage, which means either the cover was not covering properly or there was a hole somewhere for water to seep through. If this was an isolated incident, not all the covers were affected, and there was no other seepage of water elsewhere, would it be sufficient to just replace the cover or ensure that the cover is covering the insulator properly to prevent a seepage, or to make sure rain water did not leak into the insulator. Also, how come rain water contained so much chloride or salt equivalent? Normal, natural?

What I don’t understand is that why were there so much salt in the rain water just after a rain? Could it be someone or animal urinated on it? How many pieces were affected? Why not replace the cover at fault? Why the need to change all the insulators if it was the cover that was giving problem? Wasn’t the root cause due to water that contained too much chloride, and if no chloride, even the water would not affect the insulators? Why was it necessary to change all the insulators if the insulators were functioning well without chloride? I heard some comments about weak resistance of the insulators. Are these insulators meant for heavy duty works? A little water or chloride can cause severe system breakdowns?

What is the problem, cover not covering properly, water or chloride and where did the chloride came from? Or was it the insulator that was giving problem? Would it be effective if the source of water is removed or the source of chloride is removed or prevented from contacting the insulators?

Why the need to change all the insulators? I am just asking layman questions. When a switch in the house does not work, you don’t have to change all the switches. If someone spilled water on the switch, you don’t have to change all the switches. I think like a layman and using a layman’s logic. If I want to use power logic or the logic of having a lot of OPM, I can change all the trains too because of some water found with high content of chloride that seeped through a bad cover.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rb, r u implying the "自欺欺人"modus operandi of 3rd world GDP growth .....

Dig a road, create all the traffic jams and massive wastages of down time but reflected as GDP growth, then cover back the road, again GDP reflects growth ..... And a few weeks or few months later, same stretch of road dig again and cover back again with same traffic jam/ congestion/ massive downtown, wastage occurring but again log in as part of GDP growth .....

Have you ever seen some blanga workers stand beside a switch for a few hours doing the same thing all over again and again tightening the same screw, loosen it, tighten again ..... The supervisor who caught him doing such act almost "vomited blood" ......

This is 3rd world productivity in action ......

Anonymous said...


We Cannot Be Always Lucky!

I m a layman not a soil or structural engineer.

I don't care what parts that SMRT and LTA planned to change.

What is important to me is the safety of travelling in our mrt.

It is very frightening to read that in the tunnel between Tanjong
Pagar and Raffles Place, water was found dripping.

Hey! Hey! Hey! Don't play play! Water was found dipping!

Is it safe? Is it safe?

Do not wait for something disastrous to happen before SMRT and
LTA act!

We cannot be always lucky! Accidents can be FATAL!

Act Now!

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Hi RB, speed here. The Singapore MRT is in my opinion quite a new and efficient system. Unlike the London Underground where breakdowns are an almost daily occurrence, albeit the London Underground is considerably older than your MRT.

A few breakdowns now and then is OK. Cannot see why Singaporeans are so uptight about a little inconvenience. Relax and be happy Singaporeans. You have a great country.

Anonymous said...

"Unlike the London Underground where breakdowns are an almost daily occurrence, albeit the London Underground is considerably older than your MRT."
August 01, 2015 9:52 a.m

What PAPig bullshit lan cheow you talk.
London Underground is one of the most reliable in the world.
Serves 1.3 billion passengers annually.

Comparing SMRT to London Underground is like saying Singapore is more important than London or New York.
You have been reading too many LKY story books and fairy tales.

https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/what-we-do/london-underground/facts-and-figures

Anonymous said...

"Their conclusion: a confluence of factors triggered the incident"

Uncle RB
My Inglish not good lah.
The first time I came across this word 'confluence'
was Mas Selamat Kelari.
It was also "a confluence of factors".

Anonymous said...

"Why the need to change all the insulators?"

Where is the money going to come from?
- SMRT is paying or the PAP government is paying?

But I like the power logic of changing all the insulators.
- if we find that one PAPig Millionaire is faulty, we should replace the entire PAP government.

patriot said...

Water affecting an UNDERGROUND STATION sounds very UNSOUND TO ME.
Equipments underground are not expose to the Elements.

Could seawater or just plain water (with high Chloride ?) been seeping into Underground Stations?

Just a layman wondering, forgive me if I sound foolish.

patrior

agongkia said...

What so difficult to understand why some rain water are saltish or contain chloride.
Becos Tanjong Pagar n Raffles near sea mah.Sea water are saltish.Excavate 2 or 3 feet of road surface n you have chance to see sea water once earth is seen.
My marine parade kaki oso told me their metalic item tend to rust faster.
Solutions....no underground track for stations near the sea n built new overhead tracks to replace instead of changing cover.Cheng Hoo Oo Lui:-)

Anonymous said...

Would they change the cover that leaked? Would they make sure water would not seep through to the insulators?

Reminds me of the two balls got hung when the guilty one in the centre was free.

Anonymous said...

Rb, u can not blame them lar. Since its opm, it's safer for them to change everything like killing an ant with a hammer just to be sure. If not breakdown again Kena the fate of last Ceo very jialuck, multi million package gone mah. Tio bo?

Anonymous said...

I like to have a brand new system, with new tracks, new electrical cables and equipment, new rolling stocks, all brand new, and no break downs. Can save on all the millions paid to top management and foreign consultants for fault findings. Money is no problem, just collect more.

Anonymous said...

Aiyo Redbean

You do not need to change or remove anything lah.
What cover?
What insulator?
What water?
What chloride?
Just change and remove the bunch of cartoons and the problems would solve by itself.
Draw the Pareto Chart and you would find the answers.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous August 01, 2015 10:55 a.m.

// Draw the Pareto Chart and you would find the answers.//

Pareto chart?

How about the Edgeworth Box?

Or the Laffer Curve or Lorenz Curve?

Btw, what are u trying to measure or establish with the Pareto Chart?

General Equilibrium Theory?

Or Pareto Optimality?

In a nutshell, are you saying that there exists "tons" of "X-Inefficiencies" in a monopolised system staffed by non-market based ex-paper generals who only know what are cost centres but not profit centres bcos they are only trained to spent billions every year in the military. .....?

Anonymous said...


Very "DEEP" Leh! "Catch No Ball"!

The Pareto Chart Theory, the Edgeworth Box Theory,
the Laffer Curve Theory or Lorenz Curve Theory,
the General Equilibrium Theory, and the Pareto
Optimality Theory mentioned above are very very
the "DEEP" leh.

Yes! Very "DEEP" leh. Really "Catch no ball"!

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous August 01, 2015 11:49 a.m.

//Very "DEEP" Leh! "Catch No Ball"!

The Pareto Chart Theory, the Edgeworth Box Theory,
the Laffer Curve Theory or Lorenz Curve Theory,
the General Equilibrium Theory, and the Pareto
Optimality Theory mentioned above are very very
the "DEEP" leh.

Yes! Very "DEEP" leh. Really "Catch no ball"!

Cheers.//


Dun pretend pretend lah .....

U r expert right ....?

People who knows always say they dun know .....

Are u a "closet mugger" .......?

Every time study very hard but go around telling people u totally never study. ...?

Pretend pretend ......

U another "pretend singk". ...?

Pretend pretend act blur but every 10th of each month $16,000 goes into pocket ...? ? ?

ℳatilah_$ingapura said...

See, I keep telling folks. Fuck the whole thing. Shut it down and REPLACE THE WHOLE DAMN LINE---piece by fucking piece.

It's old. It has had a hard life. It needs to be completely replaced. IT WILL COST MONEY.

Now, just stop fucking about nd get the damn thing done already!!

Anonymous said...

It is a no brain decision by SMRT to replace the whole 3rd-rail system. It will cost them nothing! When the whole sub-system is replaced, it is an upgrade of the infrastructure, and the tax payers foot the bill. If it were taken up as a repair to replace worn out or defective parts, it becomes a maintenance issue and SMRT would have to bear the cost. How can we trust SMRT to manage the MRT?

Anonymous said...

How can we trust SMRT to manage the MRT?
- August 01, 2015 1:05 p.m.

How to trust LTA and PAP government to manage SMRT to manage MRT?

Anonymous said...

See, I keep telling folks. Fuck the whole thing. Vote them out and REPLACE THE WHOLE DAMN PAP government ---- General by fucking General.

It's old. It has had a hard life. It needs to be completely replaced. IT WILL COST MONEY.

Now, just stop fucking about nd get the damn thing done already!!

Anonymous said...

Yep, it's as old as you. The first thing to get rid of is you.

Anonymous said...

Yes. let's get rid of Yew.
Old, tired and outlived his usefulness a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

It's time for the old boy to retire. He is riddled with cancer. Third time unlucky?

market2garden said...

Latin: Rerum cognoscere causas
To Know the Causes of Things
(LSE - The London School of Economics and Political Science)