Exercise Greyhound – A test of emergency preparedness

At around 8:30am, 14th October, Station Manager Muhammad Fadzil bin Mahmood at Tiong Bahru Station received a phone call. He listened carefully to the other party and after hanging up, he picked up his signal set and said, “Exercise Greyhound. Due to train fault, service is not available from both Changi Airport and Pasir Ris to Joo Koon. RIMP is activated. Over.”

SMRT Assistant Station Managers setting up exercise signs at Tiong Bahru

SMRT Assistant Station Managers setting up exercise signs at Tiong Bahru

Exercise Greyhound is an annual emergency preparedness test that involves public transport operators SMRT and SBS Transit. The exercise is organised by Land Transport Authority and often presents challenging scenarios that involve both operators – Scenarios that neither operators want to see happen, but must be prepared for.

This time, Greyhound took place at Tiong Bahru, Outram and Buona Vista stations simulating the loss of service on SMRT’s East-West Line and SBST Transit’s North-East Line. Greyhound tests not only each company’s plans for service recovery but also the ability for both companies to work together.

Pulldown signs on bus services at Tiong Bahru MRT Station

Pulldown signs on free bus services at Tiong Bahru MRT Station

“Exercise Greyhound was a good experience as it puts to actual practice our emergency response plans for a major train disruption scenario. This really builds confidence and proficiency for the station staff, myself included, as this is the first time I am acting as an Incident Officer.” Said Service Operations Manager, Llewellyn Chong. Llewellyn takes care of SMRT Station Operations from Dover to Queenstown and shared that exercises are carried out regularly, albeit not all are on the same scale as Exercise Greyhound, “Some commuters are alarmed when they see the yellow signs. After we explain that services are running as normal and that we are just practicing, many say that it’s a good idea.”

Buses are activated as an alternative mode of transport when train services are affected. During disruptions, two types of bus services may be made available. Bus bridging services will mirror the affected train service route and bring commuters from train station to train station. Free bus services may also be activated. This refers free rides on the regular bus services, regardless of operator, that usually call at the designated bus stop.

SMRT bus bridging exercise

SMRT President and Group CEO Desmond Kuek, who was also on site during the exercise was pleased to see the team working well together for the exercise. “Emergency preparedness exercises such as Greyhound allow us to test our contingency plans on a regular basis with a number of agencies. At SMRT, we run similar exercises to test the readiness of operations and maintenance staff. Each staff member at each station, for instance, is tested at least once in three months. We also run exercises to test our more senior management staff, who are in charge of the Emergency Response Team, with challenging scenarios.

Today’s exercise tests SMRT’s contingency plans for service recovery, in the event of a disruption. For example, how quickly Station Staff and the Crisis Support Team members can put up directional signage at the stations and guide commuters to bus stops that support free bus services and the special trunk services.”

Permanent Way- A Rail Challenge

Every night our colleagues at Permanent Way (P-Way) race against time to conduct maintenance on our tracks. They only have about three-and-a-half hours to finish their tasks each night before the trains start running again. Our track experts took time off their busy schedule to give us insights into their job which is essential for safe rail journeys.

 

 

 

 

 

Line Maintenance North Zone

Assistant Engineer, Noor Effendi Bin Sahari and Technical Officer, Muhammad Johaini Bin Abdul Aziz are part of the Line Maintenance Team for the North Zone. They help with the maintenance of tracks that run from Kranji to Orchard MRT station. They do both preventive and corrective maintenance works. Some of these works includes high speed ramp replacement, turn-out bearers replacement and third rail insulator cleaning.

Johaini Bin Abdul Aziz

Technical Officer, Muhammad Johaini Bin Abdul Aziz

Noor Effendi Bin Sahari

Assistant Engineer, Noor Effendi Bin Sahari

Emergency Response Unit
Assistant Engineer, Ullas Rajan, and his team are ever-ready to rectify faults on our tracks. If the track needs to be urgently accessed to in the day, he and his team will be deployed to the site. They also perform other duties such as noise monitoring of the track. Armed with their equipment, they station themselves at the walkway to ensure that the noise level meets NEA’s standards.

Ullas Rajan

Assistant Engineer, Ullas Rajan

Maintenance and Engineering

Patrolling
With a torchlight and an iPad the patrolling teams walk on the tracks every night looking for defects. The unit is 17 strong and patrols are conducted in teams of two’s or three’s. It takes them four days to cover the entire network due to the limited track access time. From loose fasteners, broken crossing nose bolt to a loose third rail claw, the teams look out for a myriad of defects. They take photos of the defect and also indicate the area with a marker. If there’s a major defect, they will immediately inform the Night Duty Officer.

Rasan Puviarasan Thatchavamoorthi

Senior Assistant Engineer, Rasan Puviarasan Thatchavamoorthi

Track Renewal
Our track renewal team is responsible for renewing tracks with defects or with extensive wear and tear. On a good night, the team can replace up to three rails. Tracks are replaced for various reasons, including when there are hairline cracks, corrugation, or if the track makes unusual noises.

Chan Pat Yuen

Senior Technical Officer, Chan Pat Yuen

Technical Support
Documents are often brought on site for ease of reference but the original documents are often too big to be read easily. The technical support team redraws these documents to A4 so they can be easily read on track. The technical support team also goes on the track to measure the gauge. They use a track trolley to check the gauge of the track. The trolley has in built sensors and our colleagues push it along the track and it collects information. This information will then be downloaded on to a computer and it presents data on Excel charts.

Steve Koh Yong Seng

Technical Officer, Steve Koh Yong Seng

Engineering Trains in SMRT

Our Trains group employs an extensive range of specialised vehicles to maintain our rail network. Grouped under the Engineering Trains Branch (ETB), these vehicles roll out from our depots after passenger trains stand down. Below are the key workhorses of ETB which are used by our engineers when the rest of Singapore is asleep.

SMRT Track Tamping Vehicle

SMRT Track Tamping Vehicle

Used to tamp ballasts while simultaneously measuring and correcting track alignments so that they are longitudinally aligned and level. This is achieved by packing the ballast(crushed stones that forms the trackbed) underneath each sleeper so that each sleeper can support the track effectively. The packing of ballast is called tamping. Our TTVs ensure SMRT passengers have a smooth and safe ride.

Train number: TTV01, TTV02
Crew: 5 (minimum)
Weight: TTVO1: 37 tons
TTVO2: 63 tons
Speed: Limited to 18km/h self-propelled

 

Multi-function Vehicle (MFV)

Multi-function Vehicle (MFV)

A moving inspection lab, the MFV uses a rail flaw detection system to detect internal cracks within the rail in real time. The system uses roller search units with ultrasonic transducers positioned in an array of angles for thorough test coverage. Engineers aboard the MFV analyse the ultrasonic data to ensure the rails are not cracked. This vehicle also equipped with track geometry measurement system which records and check the geometry of the running rail and third rail.

Crew: 4 (minimum)
Weight: 32 tons
Speed: 18km/h self-propelled
40km/h (max speed)

 

Rail Grinding Vehicle (RGV)

Rail Grinding Vehicle (RGV)

Used to re-profile the rail heads and eliminate rail corrugation in order to reduce track stresses and to extend the service life of the rail, and ensure ride comfort. Rail grinding is applied to eliminate various types of rail defects, to achieve a rail profile that optimises wheel/rail contact and combats noise and vibration. This will also reduce service failures due to rail surfaces that are uneven.

 

Train number: RGV3, RGV5
Crew: 4 (minimum)
Weight: 118 tons
Speed: 18km/h (self-propelled), 50km/h (hauled by locomotive)

 

 

Viaduct Inspection Wagon

Viaduct Inspection Wagon

To inspect elastomer bearing mounted between the concrete grinders and columns.

Crew: 4 (minimum) + 1 (External Professional Engineer)
Weight: 36 tons
Speed: 50km/h (hauled by locomotive)

CKG Diesel Locomotives

CKG Diesel Locomotives

Our oldest diesel locomotive, introduced 29 years ago. These old locos no longer ply the North South East West Line and are used to shunt (which means to haul) passenger trains within Bishan Depot when trains go there for maintenance. Mainly utilised by Rolling Stock Workshop.

Train number: D02, D10
Crew: 2
Weight: 26 tons
Speed: 18km/h

Deli Diesel Locomotive

Deli Diesel Locomotive

Our most numerous and powerful locomotive, able to haul 240 tons. Single rail vehicle powered by its own diesel engine. Can combine with another locomotive to provide propulsion for maintenance wagons and other machinery.

Train number: D201 to 215, D216 to D219
Crew: 2
Weight: 56 tons
Speed: 50km/h

Second Generation Deli Diesel Locomotives

Second Generation Deli Diesel Locomotives

Schöma Electrical Locomotive

Schöma Electrical Locomotive

Single rail vehicle able to move by itself or combine with another to provide propulsion for maintenance wagons and other machinery. Able to move with either onboard batteries or third rail power source. It may look small but can haul over 100 tons.

Train number: EL01, EL02, EL03, EL04
Crew: 2
Weight: 34 tons
Speed: 50km/h

Tunnel Cleaning Wagon

Tunnel Cleaning Wagon

Uses high pressure water jets to clean tracks, third rail cover, mounting brackets alongside tracks and lower portion of tunnel walls.
Crew: 2
Weight: 41 tons
Speed: 50km/h (hauled by locomotive)

Heavy Crane Vehicle

Heavy Crane Vehicle

Mobile crane used to lift heavy objects of up to 3-tons.

Crew: One operator, one Rigger, one lifting supervisor
Weight: 60 tons
Speed: Limited to 18km/h

Constant improvement and renewal of our rail network

We previously put up a couple of post here here and here on the various multi-year projects SMRT is carrying out in order to renew and improve the aging network. If you didn’t have a chance to read the posts earlier, here are some excerpts about some of the projects that are going on.

 

Siemens Train at SMRT depot

1. Upgrading older trains to enhance fleet reliability

“The upgrade is more than a makeover that gives our passengers clean and brightly lit cabins with comfortable seating. When completed in 2018, the upgraded C651 Siemens trains will have new or refurbished train sub-systems such as new air conditioning, electric doors (which are more silent and reliable compared to pneumatic doors powered by compressed air on older trains), brakes and propulsion systems.”

Resignalling works

2. Re-signalling will allow us to run more trains with less signalling faults

“The new system supplied by Thales Canada is one of the most advanced train signalling systems in the world. When all the new trains arrive to our network, this will allow trains to be spaced 100 seconds apart, which is an improvement from the 120 seconds time between trains under the decades-old system. More frequent train arrivals, especially during peak hours, means less congestion at station platforms and a faster journey for passengers.”

 

SMRT Sleeper replacement

3. We have successfully replaced all 96,000 wooden sleepers on the North-South Line
“Passengers on the North-South Line enjoy a smoother and safer journey with old wooden sleepers replaced with longer lasting concrete ones. We are now working to replace 92,000 wooden sleepers on the East-West line. Works began in May 2015. We are on track to finish this by end 2016.”

 

This short two-minute video summarises the four main projects that are currently underway so that we can bring you a safer, more comfortable and more reliable journey.

Condition Monitoring with RailVision

There are two trains in our network that have these grills under the seats of the saloon car. Any guesses what is behind them? Read more

Improving the MRT

Multi-year, multi-project efforts are making good progress in renewing the North-South East-West Line (NSEWL) for better customer service and future growth. This marks the biggest transformation of the NSEWL since it was built in the 1980s. Here’s a snapshot of the work-in-progress.

Re-signalling will allow us to run more trains with less signalling faults
Next year, MRT trains serving the North-South Line (NSL) will operate with a new signalling system that replaces the legacy signalling system that dates back to the 1980s. The project is progressing well with 91% of the North-South Line completed and 44% of East-West Line re-signalling work done. Re-signalling is expected to be completed on the NSL in 2016 and on the EWL in 2018.

These are significant milestones as the new signalling system will substantially improve the capacity of the NSEWL to run trains at shorter interval hence ease congestion at station platforms. But this capability will be maximised only after the train fleet is enlarged by end 2016 to allow more trains to be deployed on the NSEWL.

The new system supplied by Thales Canada is one of the most advanced train signalling systems in the world. It will allow trains to be spaced 100 seconds apart, which is an improvement from the 120 seconds time between trains under the decades-old system. More frequent train arrivals, especially during peak hours, means less congestion at station platforms and a faster journey for passengers.

Compared to the legacy system, the new signalling system is designed with more redundancies, which makes it more reliable because signal faults are less likely to occur. This is because critical components in the signalling system are duplicated as a form of back-up or fail safe to improve system reliability. Other useful features include functionalities that provide greater flexibility in train services to lessen the impact of service disruptions or delays in the event of track faults.

Towards the end of the year, we expect to start trials to fully test the new signalling system. The trials involving trains fitted with the new signalling system will be done on the NSL early in the morning during non-passenger service hours so as to minimise inconvenience to passengers. We are mindful that trials in the early morning may affect residents living close to train tracks. These early morning trials are disruptive but necessary. We will do our best to complete the tests required as quickly as possible without compromising the safety, reliability and thoroughness of these trials.

Upgrading older trains to enhance fleet reliability
Four types of trains serve on the NSEWL. The oldest C151 KHI train model entered service in 1987 while the second oldest model, the Siemens C651, was introduced in 1994. We are making progress on the project to upgrade the C651 Siemens trains which have reached the mid-life status. We have identified some of the ageing components on this train model that need to be replaced with latest technology to improve train performance. The upgrade will aim to improve the reliability of the 19 C651 Siemens trains. By the end of this year, the SMRT project team and Singapore Rail Engineering would finalise the proposed improvements for this train design and will proceed with upgrading work and testing of a prototype train in 2016.

We expect to start upgrading the C651 trains thereafter and will time the upgrading work with the delivery of new trains. Such coordination is important to ensure the number of trains available for passenger service is maintained at a healthy level.

The upgrade is more than a makeover that gives our passengers clean and brightly lit cabins with comfortable seating. When completed in 2018, the upgraded C651 Siemens trains will have new or refurbished train sub-systems such as new air conditioning, electric doors (which are more silent and reliable compared to pneumatic doors powered by compressed air on older trains), brakes and propulsion systems. These have been the primary causes of delays due to train faults. In addition, upgraded trains will have sensors that furnish the Train Captain and engineering staff with the train’s state of health, thus making it easier to operate and maintain the train.

The next series of trains due for an upgrade are the C151 Kawasaki Heavy Industries trains, which are the oldest train model deployed on the NSEWL. We plan to equip these 66 trains with the same advanced equipment as the soon-to-be upgraded C651 Siemens train fleet to achieve greater commonality for more efficient fleet management. The new lease of life from these end-of-life upgrades will result in rejuvenated trains that will serve our passengers with much improved levels of reliability and ride comfort, offering safer and faster journeys across our network.

New trains increase passenger capacity
Two new C151B trains, part of a fleet of 45 new trains for the NSEWL, are delivered to Bishan and Tuas Depots where the trains are being fitted out and will be tested extensively. These trains, designed to operate with the new signalling system, will lead to improvements in the NSEWL that will allow it to run more trains and provide safe, reliable and timely train services.

Before a new train is allowed to carry its first passengers, SMRT’s engineering staff will work closely with the Land Transport Authority and train maker to get the new train ready for passenger service. It takes about a year to complete installation, checkout, integration and testing of a new train with its onboard equipment such as air-conditioning, automatic doors and sensors, propulsion and brakes, communication equipment as well as interior fittings like seats, poles and handles for standing passengers. Every item will be rigorously tested before it is certified safe for passenger service.

More new trains are on their way to Singapore and more than half of the 45 trains will be delivered by the middle of 2016. We look forward to having your step aboard our new trains to experience how these trains will lead to a better travel experience.

Transforming our engineering workforce to serve you better
Our engineering workforce has grown substantially as part of our commitment to strengthen maintenance and upsizing our engineering capability ahead of future growth of the network.

Since December 2011, we almost doubled the number of executive engineers to 326 today, and technicians by more than 30% to 2265. By 2018, SMRT aims to have more than 400 engineers (127% increase from 2011) and more than 2600 technicians (50% jump from 2011). This will complement the enlarged trains fleet and will be needed to keep the renewed NSEWL network in good working order.

The SMRT Trains Engineering Program (STEP) and enhanced Career Roadmap introduced in May 2015 aim to better recruit, retain, as well as professionalise our engineering staff. STEP will see our Engineers attain a professional rail engineering chartership awarded by the Institute of Engineers Singapore. The roadmap underscores SMRT’s commitment to develop staff throughout their careers to their fullest potential in order to better serve commuters and overcome future challenges in the transport network and rail industry.

Providing outstanding customer service
More than two million passenger trips are made on SMRT rail network every day. Every journey is important to us. As hardware is improved, our commitment to providing quality “heartware” to operate and maintain the improved NSEWL is no less important. Passengers at all our NSEWL stations will find staff close at hand to help from the first train till the last train. Many examples abound of how SMRT staff have gone the extra mile to help our passengers in need. These include the maintenance staff who helped a passenger retrieve a $50 note that had slipped under the escalator stairs and the numerous notes of thanks that our station staff have received for extending a helping hand to passengers who lost their way along our network or needed help finding lost items.

We seek to constantly improve every touch point with passengers in out transport network to serve you better. Recent initiatives include dedicated Care Zones for passengers with needs, escalator safety announcements and free charging stations for mobile devices.

Where we have lapsed with service recovery during train disruptions, we will learn from such episodes. We are working towards better provision of information to staff assisting bus and train passengers so that our staff can provide better travel advice. We aim to serve you even better.

Our achievements renewing the NSEWL to serve you better

We have successfully replaced all 96,000 wooden sleepers on the North-South Line
Passengers on the North-South Line enjoy a smoother and safer journey with old wooden sleepers replaced with longer lasting concrete ones. We are now working to replace 92,000 wooden sleepers on the East-West line. Works began in May 2015. We are on track to finish this by end 2016.

Re-signalling makes good progress
The decades-old signalling system is being replaced by a state-of-the-art train signalling system – one of the most advanced in the world. The re-signalling work on trains, tracks and stations is making good progress with 91% of the North-South Line complete and 44% of East-West Line re-signalling work done. When completed, this project will allow trains to travel closer to one another, which means you will have a shorter time waiting for trains at MRT stations. More frequent train arrivals also reduce congestion. As trains can travel closer to one another, the benefits from the new signalling system will be optimised when SMRT’s Rail Operations planners have a sufficiently large fleet of trains for daily deployment.

On track to upsize the NSEWL train fleet
The NSEWL train fleet has never been bigger. More than half of the 45 new C151B trains for the NSEWL will be delivered by the middle of 2016. Two have already arrived and will start serving passengers next year.

Driving towards more Trains professionals
We have doubled the number of engineers since December 2011 and aim to increase this to 400 engineers in March 2018. We are also hiring more technicians and expect to have 2,600 technicians in March 2018. This represents the largest engineering workforce in SMRT’s history. The bigger number of trains professionals will be tasked with maintaining SMRT’s train network to serve passengers better by keeping reliability, availability and maintainability high.

We’ve started a blog to keep you updated
With behind-the-scenes stories and exclusive updates, the SMRT Blog (which we started in March 2015) keeps you informed and updated on progress of the NSEWL modernisation.

Twitter feeds provide real-time travel updates and advice
SMRT’s Twitter feed is one of the top actives among Twitter users in Singapore. Real-time travel updates via Twitter give travel advice and situation updates during disruptions that take longer to resolve. SMRT Facebook has also been steadily growing its subscriber base.

We are among the safest metros in the world
As we strive to renew the NSEWL, SMRT ranks among the safest metros in the world. We maintained a zero incident rate for rail service collision and derailment. The passenger injury rate in FY2015 was at an all-time low of 0.004 per million, while compares favourably to the safety threshold of 0.4 per million set by the regulator.

We have achieved much, but a lot more remains to be done.

We’re working on it!

A tremendous amount of work is being done to renew and upgrade the North-South East-West Line (NSEWL), Singapore’s oldest and longest MRT line.

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 being made every day. But a lot more remains to be done to modernise the NSEWL to serve you better. So SMRT must press on.

The 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 work being done is said to be the biggest modernisation project on a “live” MRT system anywhere in the world.

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, projects and resources properly. This allows our engineers and contractors to maximise the time spent on the track so that attention can be given to the more urgent tasks.

Even as we do so, the NSEWL continues to age. Just as important is close monitoring of train operations as well as the ability to adapt maintenance timetables to the ageing system because components that reach their end-of-life may need more attention.

At present, our attention is focused on key engineering projects such as:
• Sleeper replacement

• Third rail replacement

• Re-signalling

• Upgrading older trains

• Introducing new trains

• Improved monitoring of train operations and maintenance activities

• Increasing the number of engineering staff

• Providing outstanding customer service

Sleeper replacement
Working closely with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and rail contractors, the SMRT team achieved a major milestone when we finished replacing wooden sleepers on the North-South Line with concrete sleepers in April 2015.

With speed restrictions lifted along major portions of the NSL, passengers arrive at their destination faster. The new concrete sleepers provide a smoother and safer ride compared to the wooden ones that were approaching their end-of-life.

Wooden sleepers along the East-West Line are now being replaced nightly. Steady progress is being made thanks to the experience gained by our engineers while carrying out the NSL sleeper replacement project. When the work is completed at the end of 2016, passengers travelling from Pasir Ris to Joo Koon (and beyond to Tuas Link when the Tuas West Extension opens in 2016) on the East-West Line will also experience better train rides.

The sleeper replacement project will involve the installation of more long-lasting concrete sleepers that support the running rails, which are the metal rails on which the trains move, and this will lead to a smoother train ride for you.

Inter-related projects
An MRT train system is a complex work of engineering with many moving parts, all of which must work in a tightly coordinated manner for safe, speedy and reliable travel.

New sleepers provide you a smooth train journey.

A modernised signalling system will allow trains to travel closer to one another. This means passengers can expect to see trains arrive more frequently at MRT stations. With one of the most advanced train signalling systems designed with onboard redundancies, SMRT expects to see signalling faults much reduced.

With a new signalling system, we can place more trains onto the tracks safely, thus increasing the capacity of the line and reducing congestion at MRT stations. In order to do so, SMRT will introduce new trains.

And when the new trains are introduced, this will allow SMRT engineers to take older trains out of service to upgrade these trains with new equipment. This project will update older trains and will, in turn, lead to better commuter experience and train services once the reliability of older train types is improved.

Much has been achieved. But we need to press on as our task is not complete.
Note: Upcoming blog installments will explain the other engineering projects under our rail transformation journey. Bookmark this blog and stay tuned for more!

Gatefold HR-19

SMRT Celebrates our Nation’s 50th Birthday

Join us at 10 MRT stations and 5 bus interchanges today as we celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday with free travel and freebies.

*Update @ 1330: Some of our stations and all interchanges have stopped giving out the freebies. Scroll down to see which ones are still giving away gifts.

Orchard MRT Volunteers

The volunteers at Orchard MRT are ready!

Visit selected train stations and bus interchanges today to get a free badge in celebration of SG50

Visit selected train stations and bus interchanges today to get a free badge in celebration of SG50

At the interchanges, we have photowalls set up for your photo taking pleasure

At the interchanges, we have photowalls set up for your photo taking pleasure

SMRT Buses welcomes all guests to sign in the SG50 Guestbook

SMRT Buses welcomes all guests to sign in the SG50 Guestbook

Did you manage to get a bite of the SG50 cake that we had at the interchanges?

Did you manage to get a bite of the SG50 cake that we had at the interchanges?

The stations that will be giving away gifts from 3pm to 5pm are

  1. Esplanade
  2. Promenade
  3. Bayfront
  4. Raffles Place
  5. City Hall