SMRT Trains welcomed Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to Kim Chuan Depot last Friday (26 May 2017) as we marked 200 disruption-free days on the Circle Line. Minister Khaw said that our colleagues “are working hard to raise rail reliability” and are “pressing on to improve it further”. We thank the Minister for his encouragement.
From next week (week commencing 29 May 2017), system-level performance checks on the new signalling system for the North-South Line (NSL) will be carried out on weekdays. The intensive weekday runs follow the Sunday checks done since 16 April 2017, and will allow SMRT and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to carry out continuous checks on the new signalling system.
Engineers from SMRT, LTA and Thales, the supplier of the signalling system, have been monitoring the performance of the signalling system closely since NSL trains began serving passengers using the new signalling system in late March. Engineers continue to rectify teething issues. These include achieving higher accuracy of train and station door alignment, better coordination between closure of train and station doors, familiarising train captains with operating the new system in inclement weather and allowing maintenance teams to troubleshoot and rectify faults with the new system.
The weekday system-level performance checks will allow the system engineers to further fine-tune and improve the operational performance of the system. These checks on the NSL – Singapore’s oldest MRT line – will furnish engineers and maintenance staff with data on the performance of the new signalling system, with the number of trains deployed on the NSL and the interval between each train varying from peak and non-peak hours. Such data will be assessed closely as part of rigorous checks before the system is declared fully capable of eventually supporting train operations at intervals of as short as 100 seconds between each train.
During the weekday system checks, the new signalling system may continue to encounter some glitches as it settles in to full-load operations. Commuters on the NSL could experience instances of train and platform doors not opening or closing promptly, trains held at stations slightly longer than usual, or trains stopping momentarily between stations. In earlier trials which took place during the last hour of passenger service, and during Sunday trials, the safety system stopped trains momentarily so that engineering staff could address signal glitches. The new Communications-Based Train Control signalling system is designed with this safety feature which ensures trains will be kept at a proper distance from one another at all times. Such situations are not safety critical and SMRT, LTA and Thales will have more engineers on standby to respond quickly to situations that may arise. More station staff will also be on hand to assist commuters.
These weekday system checks have been planned to commence during the June holidays to minimise commuter inconvenience. However, those travelling on the NSL are still advised to cater for additional travelling time.
Mr Alvin Kek, SMRT Senior Vice President for Rail Operations (NSEWL), said: “While we look forward to operating trains on the new signalling system, the all-day performance checks are part and parcel of working out teething issues that may arise when a new signalling system is introduced to a train network. Our engineers, operations controllers, and trains and stations operations staff have been working with LTA and Thales for the past two months to ensure that the checks on the new signalling system are carried out under close monitoring, and to ensure that all incidents are quickly resolved. We continue to ask for commuters’ patience and cooperation as we work round the clock to settle the system in as quickly as possible.”
SMRT Corporation and the University of Birmingham, one of the top universities for railway science and education in the United Kingdom, have embarked on four research projects that will enhance the reliability of railway networks.
About 20 SMRT engineers will be involved in research carried out at the University’s state-of-the-art railway laboratories. When necessary, SMRT equipment and engineering staff will be sent to the UK or vice versa depending on the nature of the projects.
The projects are guided by a Master Research & Collaboration Agreement signed between the University of Birmingham and SMRT Corporation promoting joint research into railway engineering by both signatories. Under the agreement, researchers from the University and SMRT Trains will look into projects to improve the reliability of rail infrastructure and power systems.
“At the heart of this effort is the increased use of condition monitoring devices, simulation tools and data analytics, which are among the research areas spearheaded by the UoB-SMRT research agreement. The pairing of academic know-how with the experience gained by heavy rail engineers is a valuable combination that will lead to better reliability, availability and safety. In short, a better journey for rail commuters.”
Professor Clive Roberts, Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, said: “We are delighted to be commencing four interesting research projects with SMRT, which will enable us to demonstrate the benefits of our research on a live network. Three of the projects will focus of condition monitoring of different railway assets, and will take forward research that has been previously developed in the laboratory. The fourth project will provide a detailed understanding of the dynamic loads on the railway power system.”
In October 2016, SMRT Corporation and the University of Birmingham jointly announced the launch a post graduate course in railway engineering. The three-year course is the first of its kind for engineers here. It is jointly administered by the SMRT Institute, which serves as the academic centre for SMRT Corporation, and the University’s Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), whose railway education programmes attract staff from leading metro operators such as the London Underground and the Taipei Metro.
The course is unique because it provides course participants with perspectives from an institute of higher learning for railway education as well as real-world operator experience. The intellectual framework provided by the University of Birmingham, when strengthened with lessons learned by SMRT Trains in the course of running heavy and light rail systems, will contribute to accelerating the development of our rapidly growing railway engineering workforce. This is achieved by providing a strong academic foundation for course participants, tempered by knowledge of how classroom concepts are applied in real-world situations.
At the age of six, Isaac Nathaniel D’Souza was presented with a SMRT train model by one of our colleagues. His fascination with trains grew exponentially, and he is now the proud architect of his very own SMRT Land – an intricately-built miniature city of electrical train models – right in his home.
A true blue train fanatic, Isaac is a Service Ambassador at Jurong East Station. In his quest to build the city, he spent a whooping five-digit figure to remodel his room and purchase materials for details such as the roundel replica and train livery on his walls. Isaac is inspired by his visits to different parts of Japan, where most of his electrical train models come from
Delivering a world-class transport service that is safe, reliable and customer-centric is at the heart of what we do.
Senior Station Manager Katijah Bte Sarbu won the Best Customer Service for Transport award at the Singapore Tourism Awards 2017. This was SMRT Corporation’s fourth consecutive win in the category.
Katijah receiving the award from Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) (centre) and Mr Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board (left).
Katijah has been with SMRT Trains for 32 years. “I love to interact with people. This job allows me to meet people from all walks of life. Through conversations with my passengers, I get to learn something more about them. After some time, it feels like I am meeting up with old friends. We even talk about where to find good food and how each other’s family is doing.” Now stationed at Paya Lebar, she is responsible for the station’s daily operations. She shared that she always tells herself to perform her job to the best of her ability. “As long as my passengers are happy, I am happy.”
She said she is motivated by people featured in the media who had either won service-related awards or had their extraordinary acts published. “These stories help me to identify the different approach that may help me in assisting my passengers in a different way.” When asked to share advice with new joiners, she said it was important to be calm and empathetic. “Always listen attentively to passengers, in order to come up with the right solution to help them. Be objective instead of being too emotional as this will affect decision making. Be open-minded and do not be afraid of challenges.”
Katijah added that she went through a difficult period when her son passed away due to an illness last year. “I hope that this award will motivate and inspire my two other children. No matter how difficult the situation is, nothing is impossible if we put our hearts into it.”
Bus Captain Chia Boon Siong was a finalist in the same category. Having been in the industry for four years, he believes that it is important to treat his passengers with patience and care. He pays special attention to senior citizens, and ensures they board and alight safely, and that elderly commuters are seated before the bus moves off. He once helped an elderly man and wheelchair-bound wife board the bus on a rainy day. Although he was thoroughly drenched in the process, he still continued his work in a most cheerful manner.
A familiar figure to passengers who take Service 858, Boon Siong says that he enjoys helping others, “I always want to bring a smile to every person who journeys with me. Though it seems like a small thing, it makes me very happy.” He has taken the initiative to learn the names and general information of key landmarks along the route so that he can respond effectively to commuter queries.
Organised by the Singapore Tourism Board, the Singapore Tourism Awards celebrates and recognises individuals and organisations in the tourism sector for delivering outstanding experiences and demonstrating enterprise excellence.
Thank you Minister Khaw Boon Wan for your kind words of encouragement and appreciation to all public transport staff.