Commuters confused about bridging buses during Circle Line disruption caused by signalling fault

Fatimah Mujibah and Kok Yufeng
The Straits Times
April 7, 2023

A signalling system fault affected train services for more than two hours on the Circle Line (CCL) on Friday afternoon.

It was the first major disruption on the CCL in 2023. At one point, passengers had to deal with delays of up to 40 minutes between the Dhoby Ghaut/Marina Bay and Paya Lebar MRT stations.

Transport operator SMRT first informed passengers of an additional travelling time of 30 minutes in a tweet at about 1pm.

Free regular bus and bridging services between the affected stations were available. Passengers at Dhoby Ghaut/Marina Bay heading for Paya Lebar were advised by SMRT to take the North-South Line and transfer to the East-West Line.

Those at Promenade, Bayfront or Marina Bay stations were advised to take the Thomson-East Coast Line or Downtown Line, or use alternative modes of transport.

At around 2.50pm, SMRT said the disruption was shortened to between Dhoby Ghaut/Marina Bay and Stadium stations.

Free bus services ended by 3.15pm, after normal train services resumed.

When The Straits Times arrived at Paya Lebar station at 2.15pm, trains were running as per normal towards the city, but were terminating at Stadium station.

SMRT staff at Stadium station could be seen directing passengers to a bus stop nearby. This resulted in a long queue of more than 40 people waiting for the free bus services.

Some were confused about where the bridging buses would make stops.

One affected passenger, Ms Natasha Ershad, was taking the CCL from Bishan to Promenade station to meet a friend.

She had to alight at Stadium station as she was told there was no train service from Stadium to Dhoby Ghaut or Marina Bay.

“My friend who was taking the Circle Line the other way, from Esplanade to Promenade, told me there was a train breakdown, but I didn’t think it would affect both directions,” the 35-year-old housewife said.

She added: “These things happen and today is a public holiday, so I don’t think many are in a rush. If it was a working day, I think people would be upset.”

In a Facebook post, SMRT said that for the safety of its passengers, “trains were moving at a slower speed across the affected stretch, which resulted in longer train travel time. Train services were available throughout the incident”.

It added that its engineers were on-site to conduct the recovery operations, along with additional staff who were deployed to assist passengers.

Both in-train and station announcements were also made to inform passengers of the delay.

“SMRT will continue to work with Land Transport Authority and the signalling original equipment manufacturer to enhance the system,” said SMRT, adding that it was sorry to have affected passengers’ Friday afternoon trips.

In an update on Saturday morning, SMRT said in a Facebook post that its engineers had worked through the night to “diagnose and replace the Signalling System Automatic Train Control (ATC) cards”.

It added that it, together with the LTA and systems supplier Alstom, would “continue to closely monitor the performance of the Signalling ATC system for smooth passenger services”.

The Straits Times

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.