Attended by more than 20 international railway experts, the inaugural Singapore Rail Transport Conference (SRTC) held in November 2016 provided a platform for sharing and potential collaboration in the area of technology development and innovation among operators of some of the world’s busiest metro lines. SMRT gained valuable insights as we strive to enhance rail performance and reliability.
The conference also provided us with an opportunity where we could benchmark ourselves against regional transport providers like Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR). Here are some key learning points shared by two of our guest speakers.
“Not everything needs to be in-house”
Professor Alfred Huan, Chairman, SMRT Technical Advisory Panel stated that SMRT has taken on “the very ambitious task and programme to upgrade its own engineering capabilities”. He added that this includes the company’s efforts to digitise data and adopt digital technology to coordinate our operations and maintenance.
Professor Huan, who is also the Executive Director of the Institute of High Performance Computing at A*STAR pointed out that as SMRT continually builds up its network of expertise, “not everything needs to be in-house”.
“Instead SMRT can tap on expertise within Singapore’s good eco-system of universities, A*STAR, and other research organisations”, said Huan, who was also a guest speaker at the conference.
“The important thing for SMRT is to be able to understand how to integrate all the different expertise around to promote its own objectives.”
Hong Kong MTR Vs SMRT – Adopting industry best practices
Speaking to reporters on technology advancement on the side lines of the event, Professor Lee Kang Kuen, Professor for Transportation at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said both Hong Kong MTR and SMRT have adopted continuous condition monitoring. This is currently seen as one of the best practices in the industry.
“I can see in Singapore, SMRT is adopting the same drive as MTR in really going along with the industry best practises. With all these on-going efforts, there will be a quantum leap in reliability improvements,” he added.
Hong Kong MTR’s experience achieving a high MKBF
The HKMTR reached 520,000 mean-kilometres between failure (MKBF) in the first quarter of 2016 while SMRT aspires to achieve 400,000 MKBF by 2018.
Professor Lee shared his confidence that SMRT would be able to achieve its rail reliability targets by improving from our experiences and lessons learnt in our 30 year history.
“MTR started operations back in 1979, so it is actually about 10 years prior to SMRT. MTR has improved through lessons learnt over the years. For each lesson learnt we adopted improvement measures. This is how excellence can be built up. I’m sure that with the same approach being adopted by SMRT that excellence can be achieved here,” he said.
“Exchange of experiences not “import”
When asked by a reporter what aspects of the HKMTR could be imported to Singapore, Professor Lee pointed out that each network has its own features, and it is important to share experiences and not “import”.
The professor, who has over 40 years’ experience in railway Operations and Maintenance (O&M), projects and consultancy, also stressed the importance of having these sharing sessions regularly.
“I am actually very delighted that this (the conference) has been done quite well where member railways get to share their experience so other members will not repeat what has gone wrong,” he said.