By Joy Fang
Two SMRT train drivers involved in the December breakdowns have said they were not trained to handle commuters during an emergency.
On the fourth day of the Committee of Inquiry (COI) hearings into the breakdowns, the drivers of two trains that stalled on Dec 15 said that, while they were trained to rectify train faults, they were not trained to take care of passengers during emergencies.
The train operated by driver Hardy Afandie, 44, had one of its glass panels smashed by a commuter as the carriage had become stuffy.
Mr Hardy, who has worked in SMRT for 24 years, said 15 minutes after his train stalled, passengers told him through the emergency communication channel that the carriages were getting very warm.
He told them over the public- announcement system to stay calm and wait for instructions.
A rescue train arrived to haul the stalled train to Orchard Station 30 minutes later.
Mr Hardy said he did not open his door as he was afraid the commuters would rush into the driver's cabin in panic.
He remained in his cabin also because he was waiting for instructions from superiors.
While he could have assessed the situation by looking into the carriages through the cabin's panel, Mr Hardy confessed that he did not.
He said the train's lights and air-conditioning were working because a light in the cabin indicated that the train still had power.
But Professor Lim Mong King, one of the three COI members, said that was not possible as all the train's current-collector shoes - which draw power from a part of the train tracks called the third rail - were damaged.
Prof Lim also rebuked Mr Hardy for not tending to the commuters.
In contrast, train driver Mohamad Alwi Sirat, 51, who has also worked in SMRT for 24 years, opened his cabin door to "reassure passengers that he was still there with them".
He also walked through the carriages to assess the situation.
When a woman with an asthmatic condition approached him, he took her to his cabin to rest. He was praised by all the COI members for his initiative.
Meanwhile, COI chairman Tan Siong Thye reprimanded SMRT chief controller Moksin Mahsan for not quickly activating a plan that helps SMRT manage disruptions.
Mr Moksin was in SMRT's Operation Control Centre on Dec 15 when he discovered that the third rail was sagging at 7.07pm.
However, he sent out an alert only at 7.20pm.
Judge Tan asked why he did not activate the alert immediately.
Mr Moksin replied that his "main concern" was to get the passengers off the train as he did not want them to be stuck for a "very long" time.
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