A very tragic accident happened on the tracks of our SMRT trains yesterday. Two young men had their lives cut short. They were part of a team of 16 men “that went down to the track to investigate a reported alarm from a condition monitoring device for signalling equipment”. The team had been authorised to access the tracks.
Given that there is a set of SOP for investigating the alarm from the condition monitoring device, I would think that this isn’t the first time that SMRT had sent teams to perform such a task. This should have been a routine task. Something that the team would have been trained for.
Looking at the image from SMRT of the track where the accident happened, if the team had been walking in single file along the walkway that was about 0.5m wide, then they should be quite safe. And indeed most of the team were safe. 16 people (15 staff and one supervisor) were in the team that went on the track that day. The men who were struck were second and third in line. No one else was even hurt.
So what happened? How did the second and third person in line get hit and killed by an oncoming train that they should have been able to see coming from quite far away?
This is still being investigated. So I am not going to speculate. But there are people who are speculating online. And their speculations are utterly idiotic.
And here’s another:
Hello. Firstly, we don’t know what caused the accident. But use backside to think also know that the accident didn’t happen just because the team as out performing what is probably a routine task. If it was, then it wouldn’t have just been two men dead. It would have been the entire team. But something else caused just those two men to stray off the walkway, onto the track, and into the path of the oncoming train. So don’t blame it on the team having to go and perform a maintenance/rectification task.
Secondly, you mean we have to accept that SMRT is too incompetent to come up with SOPs that are safe for their staff to do the necessary work to rectify issues and prevent delays? If that is the case, then might as well say that we shouldn’t have a credible defence force! Because SAF has had more deaths due to training than SMRT ever had due to staff conducting maintenance work. So are we going to accept that our SAF should not have realistic (or less realistic) training as trade-off to reduce or prevent training accidents?
But clearly we need realistic training for a credible defence force. And that comes with its own set of risk. Which we then try to mitigate through various ways. Similarly, the issue with SMRT is not that we shouldn’t demand train services that have as little delays as possible. It should be that we have protocols, procedures, and sufficient training in place to ensure the safety of the crew while they perform their maintenance and rectification tasks.
So to blame the deaths of the two SMRT staff on people’s expectation of train service without delay is completely idiotic. For all we know, this could be a one-off tragedy, not symptomatic of a larger systemic problem.
But if investigations find that this incident is a result of a wider systemic problem, then the people who should take responsibility are those who failed to put in place the protocols, procedures, and training programme to ensure the safety of staff conducting maintenance and rectification work. And, to quote somebody, “In Japan, the chairman and CEO would call a press conference, take a deep bow and, in the good old days, they may even commit hara-kiri.”
Let’s stop stupid idiotic speculations about what could have caused this tragedy. Let’s only bay for blood after the investigations are complete.