SINGAPORE,. From next Monday, some commuters at selected MRT stations will have to walk through metal detectors and pass their belongings through X-ray scanners before going through the fare gates.
In its media statement yesterday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) did not say which MRT stations will have the screening equipment, only that it would be deployed at up to six stations at any one time.
The six-month trial will be conducted across all rail lines, the LTA added.
The stations will be “selected at random and will not be disclosed beforehand due to security reasons”, its spokesperson said.
On the estimated proportion of commuters who may be screened, the spokesperson said: “Similar to the security bag checks that are being performed at MRT stations today, the frequency is not fixed. Due to security reasons, we are unable to disclose further details.”
Security officers contracted by the LTA will conduct the screening.
When metal detectors and X-ray scanners were first deployed at the first Exercise Station Guard emergency exercise in February this year, a senior LTA official said that the checks would take an estimated eight to 10 minutes for each passenger.
This included queuing time, and all commuters boarding the Downtown Line at Newton Station at the time were screened during the eight-hour drill.
For the upcoming trial, information obtained will enable the LTA to “streamline and optimise its security screening processes” and reduce the future impact on daily rail operations.
It will also collect feedback from commuters and the public transport operations.
LTA’s chief executive officer Ngien Hoon Ping said that by the end of this year, public transport operators will progressively use handheld metal detectors during security checks at bus interchanges and MRT stations.
Ngien, who is chairman of the Public Transport Security Committee, added that the public transport system, used by millions of people in Singapore daily, is a key infrastructure.
“We must remain vigilant against individuals who may be carrying dangerous items that can cause harm to the public,” he said.
Given the vulnerability of the public transport system to terrorist attacks, security measures have increased over the years. In 2009, the Public Transport Security Command (TransCom), a Singapore Police Force specialist unit, was established.
Last December, the police said that commuters could see more explosives-detector dogs around public transport hubs ahead of Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Separately, the LTA said yesterday that it will be conducting another Exercise Station Guard on Dec 5 at Hougang MRT Station on the North East Line from 10am to 4pm.
This will be carried out with rail operator SBS Transit and will test preparedness against security threats.
During the exercise, commuters will be directed to Exit A or Exit B of the station to undergo security screening before they enter the station. They will have to go through a metal detector and pass their belongings through X-ray scanners.
It will be the third Exercise Station Guard conducted this year. — TODAY