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SMRT: Ang Mo Kio MRT smoke due to overheated motor bearings

Evening commuters crowding near the escalator at Ang Mo Kio MRT station. The middle escalator at the station was cordoned off after it was seen emitting smoke on Monday afternoon. — Koh Mui Fong/TODAY pic SINGAPORE, Feb 6 — Overheated motor bearings could have caused an escalator at Ang Mo Kio MRT station to emit smoke yesterday afternoon, said rail operator SMRT.

A section of the station was cordoned off after the escalator — which leads toward the underground linkway to Ang Mo Kio Hub — was seen emitting smoke.

A SMRT maintenance staff member was taken to Singapore General Hospital for smoke inhalation and was warded for observation.

In a media statement yesterday evening, SMRT vice-president of corporate communications Margaret Teo said: “At around 1.20pm today, our staff detected smoke from an escalator leading towards the underground linkway to AMK Hub.

“For the safety of our commuters, all three escalators were turned off and the linkway was closed immediately. As a precaution, Singapore Civil Defence Force officers were activated.

“One of our maintenance staff is in hospital under observation after he was admitted for smoke inhalation.”

She added: “Initial investigations show that the smoke could have come from overheated motor bearings in the faulty escalator which was replaced earlier today. Further checks will be carried out before the escalator is put back in service.”

SMRT said the other two escalators next to the faulty escalator have been turned off pending safety checks. However, commuters can still use the escalator steps to access the linkway.

“Station staff will be on hand to guide commuters,” said Teo.

“The elderly and commuters with special needs are advised to use the lift. The linkway was reopened at 6.10pm.”

Photos circulating on social media showed the station shrouded in smoke, with SMRT staff redirecting commuters from the affected area.  SCDF officers were also seen at the scene.

When TODAY visited the Ang Mo Kio station during the evening peak period from 5.30pm to 7pm, the affected escalator remained closed.

The two escalators on either side of it were turned off but, at around 6pm, were opened for commuters to walk up and down.

There was some confusion among the evening peak-hour crowd, with several commuters whipping out their mobile phones to take photos.

Some people approached the station staff, confused as to why they could not take the escalators.

But SMRT deployed additional ground staff to manage the traffic flow smoothly, and instructed commuters to hold on the handrails and not rush.

Some were also redirected to take the lift next to the escalators instead. — TODAY