Singapore trains have good fire safety system, says LTA after Hong Kong train 'firebomb' incident

The statement comes as a response to queries following the train fire at Hong Kong that injured 17 people.

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An SMRT train leaves a station in Singapore Reuters

As concerns rise in Singapore following the train fire at Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station on Friday that injured 17 people, Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that all the trains in the Lion City have inbuilt features to prevent the spread of fire and ensure safety of the passengers.

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An LTA spokesperson told Channel News Asia that all the trains on Singapore's rail network have been designed with fire safety in mind and have bodies built of "fire-retardant" materials. Moreover, train floorings are also fire-resistant and each train has fire and smoke detection systems as well as two fire extinguishers, said the spokesperson. For underground MRT stations, authorities have installed ventilation fans and incorporated tunnels to extract smoke and supply fresh air during a fire incident.

LTA also urges rail operators to train their staff so that they can manage the situation in case of a mishap and ensure passengers' safety. "The operators' readiness to handle such emergencies is tested regularly by LTA and relevant agencies, such as the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Singapore Police Force, through checks as well as tabletop and simulated exercises," said LTA, according to Channel News Asia.

For passengers, LTA has also laid down some guidelines during such emergency situation. They are asked to instantly alert the train driver via the intercom system in case there is a fire in any of the bogies so that Operation Control Centre is immediately informed. In the case of a driverless train, like the ones that run on the Circle Line, the OCC is notified automatically when fire incidents occur, reported the news agency. Passengers are also asked to exit the train in an orderly manner to avoid a stampede.

If fire or smoke was found in the train tunnel, the train operators have been asked to inform the SCDF immediately and take the affected trains to the nearest station.

Fire incidents affecting the rail system are not very uncommon in Singapore. In 2013, a fire was triggered in a tunnel near Newton station by a short-circuited electric cable. Also in 2015, a fire broke out at Ang Mo Kio MRT station. However, there were no reports of injuries in both the cases, reported the news agency.