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  • I-Witness
Published 25 May 2023
2-min Read

A multi-agency ground deployment exercise at Raffles Place MRT Station helps sharpen our emergency preparedness plans.

By: Mike Tan

collage of officers engaging in an exercise in the MRT station
PHOTOS: Andika Putra

It’s the evening rush hour at Raffles Place MRT Station and in the hustle and bustle, few commuters notice a luggage bag that has been left unattended along a busy concourse.

But vigilant public transport staff are soon on the scene – noting the suspicious bag, they alert the Singapore Police Force (SPF). As a team of Police officers assess the potential threat posed by the bag, others swiftly cordon off the area and usher commuters to safety.  
A Multi-Agency Effort
This exact scenario was played out in the early hours of 24 May 2023, marking the start of Exercise Ferrovia, a multi-agency emergency preparedness exercise organised by the SPF and supported by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), Land Transport Authority (LTA) and public transport operator SMRT Corporation (SMRT).

police officer with a k9 dog
Responding to a suspicious luggage bag that has been left unattended.

The Exercise involved over 250 SPF, SCDF, LTA and SMRT officers and marked the third time that such a ground deployment exercise had been conducted at an MRT station (previous exercises were held at Esplanade MRT Station in 2017 and Tampines West MRT Station in 2019).

The close coordination between the agencies allowed for the luggage bag threat to be contained, with no commuters harmed. Central to this effort were officers from the SPF’s Public Transport Security Command (TransCom). Established in 2009, TransCom deploys patrols to effectively respond to security incidents within Singapore’s public land transport network.

roleplaying actors in white tops during the exercise
An armed attack occurs at Raffles Place MRT Station.

Armed and Dangerous
But the Exercise was far from over. Once the luggage bag scenario had safely concluded, a new threat arose – four armed men alighted on the train platform and began to attack commuters.

transcom officers dashing through the gantry with their guns pointed up
Officers arrive on the scene.

Knowing what to do during a terrorist attack can save lives. As one attacker fired shots into the crowd and the others rushed forward with knives, commuters executed the SGSecure “Run, Hide, Tell” protocol, fleeing from the scene. These actions were also captured by the SMRT’s i-Security system, which employs artificial-intelligence-enabled CCTV to detect anomalies within MRT stations.

transcom officers with their guns pointed at a subject holding onto a hostage
Officers swiftly neutralise the threat posed by the armed men.

Responding in a Crisis
As fleeing commuters were led to safety, Police officers arrived on the scene. They pursued the attackers and rescued a hostage before finally neutralising the armed men. The officers then worked with SCDF lifesavers to render aid to the injured.

role players assessing victims on the floor
Taking care of those injured in the attack.

Exercises such as Ferrovia allow the SPF and SCDF to work with the LTA and public transport operators to validate our contingency plans and strengthen coordination to respond effectively during a crisis. The SPF will continue to enhance our crisis preparedness, to keep our public transport system safe and secure.


Exercise Ferrovia 2023
Learn more about Exercise Ferrovia 2023

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