- Novena MRT station was closed on Friday evening due to smoke from an air conditioning unit.
- Trains along the North-South Line skipped Novena station for about two hours.
- SMRT, apologised for the inconvenience and provided free bus services between Newton and Toa Payoh stations.
You may think train stations are invincible. Things like this don’t happen. Yet, here we are. A primitive foe, smoke, stopped a modern marvel, Novena MRT station, in its tracks.
What Exactly Happened?
It was a regular Friday evening.
People shuffled into Novena station, caught in their own worlds.
Then, smoke. Not fire, just smoke and a burning smell.
The cause, an air conditioning unit on the concourse level.
It was 5.49pm. The station had to be closed, horrified commuters reluctantly leaving what was assumed a safe haven.
The Straits Times reports that SMRT, without delay, asked commuters to avoid the Novena MRT station.
Trains along the North-South Line dutifully skipped Novena.
A halt, finally lifted at 7.29pm.
How Did SMRT Respond?
SMRT didn’t leave passengers out in the cold.
In response to the incident, free regular bus services were provided between Newton and Toa Payoh stations.
SMRT apologised for the inconvenience caused.
They also responded swiftly to isolate the air conditioning system for further investigation.
An update on Twitter (@SMRT_Singapore) stated “Novena station is now opened for passenger service.”
“Free regular bus & bridging bus services have ended.”
They concluded with, “We are sorry for affecting your evening commute.”
An Unexpected Night For The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)
They weren’t fighting flames or rescuing cats in trees.
Yet, the SCDF was summoned to deal with this unusual incident.
Several vehicles, including a fire engine, were spotted on the scene.
The SCDF worked with SMRT to investigate the incident.
Together, they found that the smoke originated from an air handling unit’s motor.
The motor was located inside a room at the concourse level.
A Harrowing Evening For Commuters
Novena station’s unusual situation left many at a loss.
Civil servant Joanne Loh told ST that she arrived at the station, only to find out about the incident.
Loh was asked to take the feeder bus service as opposed to her usual train route.
She wasn’t near danger, but it still disrupted her plans.
It’s moments like these that remind us of our inherent need for safety and predictability.
What Comes Next?
Incidents like these are unfortunate, yet they reveal our readiness to respond to unexpected scenarios.
With the investigation at hand, SMRT will likely take measures to prevent a repeat of this incident.
Will this lead to changes in safety policies and precautions at MRT stations?
We can only hold our breath and hope for the best.
Stay safe, Singapore.