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2 deaths, 1 injury in last decade from falls on LRT tracks

SINGAPORE - Two people have died and one was injured after falling on LRT tracks over the past 10 years, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said on Wednesday.

The most recent incident was the death of a 33-year-old woman, who was found motionless on the tracks near the platform of Cove station along the Punggol East LRT loop on March 23, the Ministry of Transport later confirmed.

In March 2017, a track death occurred on the Bukit Panjang LRT system after a man, who was drunk, got on the tracks near Fajar station and was hit by a train.

As an additional safeguard, public transport operators here are looking into technologies, such as video analytics, that can alert promptly in case of a track intrusion, so there is more time to intervene, said Dr Khor in response to questions from Ms Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).

However, she also said that it would be difficult to install platform screen doors (PSDs) at LRT stations here without substantially limiting the space available for commuters to sit or stand.

Since 2018, all stations of the Bukit Panjang and Sengkang-Punggol LRT systems have been fitted with glass and steel platform barriers in an effort to prevent people falling or accessing the tracks.

But unlike the platform screen doors erected in overground MRT stations, the LRT barriers do not have doors. Instead, they have fixed openings, with which trains will align their doors.

Ms Yeo had asked whether there have been any technological breakthroughs that would allow platform screen doors to be installed at LRT stations as well, noting that her residents were distraught by the death at Cove station in March.

“Given that our Punggol LRT stations can be quite crowded during peak hours, especially when children are headed to school, our Punggol residents are very concerned about the safety of commuters,” she added.

Dr Khor said in response that LRT stations are much smaller than MRT stations, and installing platforms screen doors would require additional space for power, communications and signal control rooms.

This is a point that has been made by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) as far back as 2015.

“The platform can be quite crowded, so this actually may not improve the safety of our commuters,” Dr Khor added.

“Nonetheless, let me assure the Member that we will continue to look into the feasibility of PSDs, taking into account any new technologies that may come into the market,” she said.

Other safety features at LRT stations that were highlighted by Dr Khor on Wednesday include a line of tactile warning studs along LRT platforms to warn commuters that they are approaching the edge of the platform.

In addition, there are emergency telephones at station platforms for commuters to communicate with station masters, and emergency stop plungers that allow commuters to stop the trains, she said.

She added that more signs and announcements have been added to remind commuters of safety practices within LRT stations, such as staying behind the yellow line.

“In designing and running our rail network, safety is our highest priority,” she said.