Inside SMRT: Smooth train traffic with a Depot Controller

When Roslan Bin Mohamed Akif is on duty, he has to ensure that he remains vigilant throughout his shift. Roslan has been with SMRT for the last 21 years and has the mammoth task of controlling the train movements in the depot and ensuring that the highest safety standards are adhered to.

Like an air traffic controller, Roslan liaises with the train captains as well as his colleagues from the Operation Control Centre over the radio to facilitate safe passage in and out of the depot. He also has to ensure that sufficient trains are launched to meet commuter needs. When the trains are withdrawn from service to undergo maintenance, Roslan assigns and confirms that the trains are stabled or “parked” at the right berth.

The old switchboard style board (left) is used as a backup in case of failure with the newer digital version (right).

The old switchboard style board (left) is a backup in case of failure with the newer digital version (right).

 

Five Facts about the Depot Controller

1. Located on the fourth floor of the control tower, the depot controller has the highest office in Bishan Depot.

Arguably the best view in Bishan Depot

Arguably the best view in Bishan Depot

2. The depot controller is not allowed to leave the office when he is on duty.

This even means bringing meals into the tower before the start of the shift and eating close to his desk during meal times.

3. The depot controller has to be contactable all the time.

Under normal circumstances, there is only one depot controller on duty at any one time.

Under normal circumstances, there is only one depot controller on duty at any one time.

Like how a solider treats his rifle, the depot controller shares the same relationship with his radio. He even has to take it with him when he’s in the toilet

4. The depot control office operates round the clock.

Although our train services do not run for 24 hours, the office still has to operate for 24 hours each and every day as there are trains constantly moving around the depot.

5. An average of 40 trains depart Bishan depot by 9am each weekday.

Starting from as early as 5am, trains are dispatched from the four depots island-wide to serve the morning rush hour.

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