Going beyond the poster – What is he working on?

Nor Khairul is a Technical Officer at the Rolling Stock Workshop. He has been with SMRT for about three years and he handles corrective and preventive maintenance of the North-South East-West trains in the SMRT network. He is also one of the faces in the “We’re Working On It” series of posters. You may recognise him as the Jurong resident working on the underside of the train. We caught up with Nor Khairul to find out more about what he does at SMRT.

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SMRT Maintenance Operations Centre: 5 things you need to know

The Maintenance Operations Centre (MOC) began operations on 3rd August 2015. It brings core maintenance functions under one roof as a real-time maintenance activation and response cluster, to provide quick and responsive recovery to critical defects on trains, tracks and in stations along the North-South and East-West Lines.

Here are 5 things you need to know about the MOC.

SMRT Maintenance Ops Centre Infographic

SMRT Disruption on 17 December 2015: Preliminary Investigation

After a major disruption on 17 December 2015, SMRT engineers work through the night to determine what were the major causes. Detailed investigations could take several weeks or longer to conclude but we are determined to provide an initial assessment of the situation as soon as possible after the incident. In this entry, we are sharing the results of the preliminary investigation with you, so that you may have a better understanding of what happened and the actions taken to get train service back online. 

JKN-PNRDisruption between Joo Koon and Pioneer

At around 7:35pm on 17 December 15, a power trip caused a train travelling between Joo Koon and Pioneer to stall. Initial efforts to restore power failed and eventually, the train had to be towed away before normal service could resume. Here are the initial findings of the incident based on preliminary investigations. Investigations are still ongoing and as new evidence is uncovered, we may update further.

Details of Recovery Efforts

Four attempts to restore power by resetting the breakers failed. Power was restored at about 9:13pm only after the stalled train’s current collector shoes – devices that draw current from the third rail – were lowered and electrical continuity between train and third rail was broken. This procedure isolated the train from the power supply.

With power restored to the circuit, the affected train was subsequently towed away by a rescue train and normal service could resume.

Preliminary Investigations

For incidents that are of this scale and complexity, engineers with different expertise have to be activated to find out what caused the problem, recover the defect and restore service safely and expeditiously.

For this case, SMRT Electrical Engineers checked the status of the substations at Joo Koon (JKN) and Pioneer (PNR). They found slight burn marks at the main breaker contacts which is a normal occurrence as a result of the tripping.

Breaker Contacts

Data loggers that were installed recently indicated a spike around 7:35pm on 17 Dec, which gave engineers greater cause to investigate further. They discovered that the power trip was likely due to a shorting between train or trackside equipment to the running rail.

Concurrently, SMRT train engineers also checked the various parts and subsystems on the stalled train. They discovered mild burn marks on a cable in the air conditioning compressor in one of the cars of the affected train. The severity of the burn marks is important and further investigations on the marks are still underway as to what could cause them.

Cable Chaffing

The other subsystems including the Current Collector Shoe, Auxiliary Power System, Engine and Propulsion System and all fuses were also inspected and no other anomaly was found.

Finally, Track infrastructure engineers inspected the track and third rail where the affected train stalled thoroughly. No anomaly was found.

Tying it all up

The preliminary assessment resulted in the following evidence,

  • Power could only be restored after isolating the affected train from the power system.
  • The data logger shows an overload situation from the trackside.
  • Burn marks were found on the air con compressor of the affected train. However, the burn marks are considered mild and does not suggest a large current surge that would cause the power trip that occurred on 17 Dec.

While the preliminary investigations from the first eight hours following the incident have uncovered much, further investigation is still required to establish the root cause.

SMRT Engineers from the various fields will continue to run tests and inspect each subsystem to uncover the full picture for the 17 December incident.

– Low Chin Hun, Vice-President, Operations Maintenance

Takeaways from CoMET Annual Meeting 2015

Transport professionals from SMRT and around the world who attended the CoMET meeting spent many enlightening hours sharing experiences, challenges and possible solutions to running heavy rail networks that carry millions of people daily.

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SMRT Upgrades Older Trains on the North-South and East-West Lines

Improving the North-South and East-West Lines SMRT is making good progress in its multi-year, multi-project efforts to renew the NSEWL. This marks the biggest transformation of the Lines since they were built in the 1980s.

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Third Rail Replacement of the North-South East-West Line

Improving the North-South and East-West Lines

SMRT is making good progress in its multi-year, multi-project efforts to renew the NSEWL. This marks the biggest transformation of the Lines since they were built in the 1980s.

Read more

Re-signalling of the North-South East-West Lines

Improving the North-South and East-West Lines

SMRT is making good progress in its multi-year, multi-project efforts to renew the NSEWL. This marks the biggest transformation of the Lines since they were built in the 1980s.

Read more

Sleeper Replacement on the North-South East-West Lines

Improving the North-South and East-West Lines

SMRT is making good progress in its multi-year, multi-project efforts to renew the NSEWL. This marks the biggest transformation of the Lines since they were built in the 1980s.

Read more

Your Journey Matters – An Introduction

A tremendous amount of work is being done to renew and upgrade the North-South and East-West Line (NSEWL), Singapore’s oldest, longest and most heavily utilised MRT line. The work takes place every day even as the rail network continues to serve passengers for around 20 hours a day and as the system copes with increased ridership.

SMRT progress chartThe transformation of the NSEWL is a complex engineering project. It represents the first major upgrade for the line since it started operations in 1987. Indeed, the renewal of the NSEWL is said to be the biggest modernisation project on a “live” MRT system anywhere in the world.

SMRT Rail Renewal Projects

This modernisation effort will lead to an updated and renewed railway system that will allow SMRT to run more trains, carry more passengers and serve our passengers better with faster connections across the MRT network. The multi-year, multi-project effort takes place seven days a week, all-year round. Much of the work takes place away from the public eye in train depots, deep underground in train tunnels or during the early hours of the morning when trains stop running. Progress is made every day to modernise the NSEWL to serve you better.

With just three hours every night for engineering staff to access the track when trains are not running, it is vital for SMRT to prioritise and allocate the engineering hours available and resources properly across different projects. Our engineers and contractors maximise the time spent on the track so that attention can be given to the more urgent maintenance and repair tasks as well as to the upgrade and renewal projects.

SMRT Resleepering

Much progress has been made over the past three years, thanks to significant and sustained efforts to improve train service reliability to serve our commuters better.

Improvements can be seen from charts showing key performance indicators like NSEWL train withdrawal and delays of more than five minutes.

our Journey Matters - Train withdrawal rate and Service delays per 100,000km under 5 mins

Our engineering staff achieved these improvements through a number of reliability improvements and modifications on our trains. These include upgrading the propulsion software on KNS trains, the replacement of power supply units on KHI trains and improvements to the signalling system to reduce power and signalling faults.

Efforts to refurbish ageing components on older trains are now underway. SMRT also plans to conduct a mid-life upgrade on its fleet of Siemens trains, which have logged a higher number of train faults compared to other train models.

More can certainly be done. The rise in service disruptions of more than 30 minutes since 2012 is closely monitored. We will bring down this figure as we strive towards higher rail reliability.


Related posts

Improvements on the North-South East-West Lines: Sleeper Replacement

Improvements on the North-South East-West Lines: Re-signalling

Improvements on the North-South East-West Lines: Upgrading older trains

SMRT and building Singapore’s future Rail Workforce

On 9 November, Senior Minister of State for Transport, Josephine Teo announced the $12.5 million Public Transport Manpower Development Fund that LTA will invest in to develop talent in the public transport industry. The Public Transport Manpower Development Fund will be used for initiatives spearheaded by LTA, WDA and public transport operators, like SMRT.

This is especially important for SMRT. President and Group CEO Desmond Kuek said, “People are at the centre of everything that makes the rail network run efficiently, effectively. And we’re determined to try and bring in and retain all the high quality workforce that is needed to keep rail reliability at its highest level.”

SMRT has played a crucial role in developing initiatives to nurture both current and future rail professionals. A Part-Time Diploma in Engineering Systems for Rapid Transit Technology was developed with Singapore Polytechnic for staff who wish to upskill themselves in the rapid transit industry with more knowledge and practical skills about the various areas of rail operations and maintenance. Currently, five of our own staff have enrolled in this part-time programme.


Credit: Singapore Polytechnic

For early and mid-career engineers, the comprehensive STEP-IN and STEP-UP schemes were created. STEP is essentially about providing our rail engineers with professional development and accreditation. It anchors on the professional development of engineers through the acquisition of necessary competencies in three areas: Values, Leadership, and Functional Skills.

Fresh graduates from Singapore Polytechnic and the Institute of Technical Education will be able to participate in Earn & Learn programmes which will give from them a head-start in their careers.


Credit: Singapore Institute of Technology

At the Degree level, SMRT supports the Singapore Institute of Technology’s new Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering programme by taking in 15 students for a 12-month integrated work-study arrangement.

These initiatives will help to continue building a sustainable workforce to support the growing network. Over the last 3 years, we have grown our Trains technical workforce by 21%.  From a base number of 191 engineers, we intend to more than double the numbers within the next two years.  We are making good progress, and already have a strength of 328, or more than 70%. There is strong interest from new graduates and retention has been excellent because the work is meaningful and exciting.