Sam Sherwood-Hale spoke to Danny Di Perna about asset management in Southeast Asia, Bombardier’s approach to business in the region and get’s the latest on multiple ongoing projects in the region
You have been with Bombardier for just over two years now, how have you found the experience so far?
When I grew up in engineering, aerospace was the exciting, high tech industry to be in – I completely underestimated rail. My father-in-law worked for the Canadian national railway and I always saw it as an old, stodgy world. But honestly, I underestimated the complexity, the requirements for safety and systems integration, cyber security and increased density for signalling, the whole project design is so impressive and it matters for everybody’s daily lives. I think the industry now is a lot more attractive to young professionals, the days of old steam engines are totally gone – it is all state of the art now.
I have been on 20 trips to China over the years and spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia in both aerospace and now in rail. We function as a one stop shop with engineering, one of our centres of excellence is in Bangkok, where we have 640 signalling engineers. We have capabilities with rolling stock and design and production support, we use our JVs in China to produce, for example, the Singapore R151 metro vehicles. We also provide maintenance support.
This topic of asset management comes up quite often in Southeast Asia, the perception is that operators and owners don’t take it as seriously as they should. Has that been your experience?
Using the UK as an example, I just went to Old Oak Common in the London area, it is a world class state of the art Crossrail-Bombardier depot. Asset management has been thought through for the next 30 years covering every aspect of maintaining the fleet. I went there with Andy Byford, TFL Commissioner, and Mark Wild, the CEO of Crossrail, and it is exactly as you say. It is one thing to get the rolling stock delivered but maintaining the value of the stock throughout its life requires full asset management in the form of operating the depots, supplying spare parts and overhauling the bogies – and we provide all of that. Governments used to buy it all and then figure it out as things were falling apart, we now have digital tools that can help us proactively maintain the assets and we strike deals that see us having a relationship that lasts 30 or 40 years. Governments can hold us accountable in this way. It is similar to the aerospace model for jet engines, you sell a jet engine to an airliner then they sign up to a long-term services arrangement for obsolescence management and fuel burn guarantees – so you’re locked down for the fleet life.
September has been a busy month for Bombardier, we have covered multiple stories of new contracts for Bombardier in China, Australia, Singapore – all over Asia. You must be very pleased with how business is going in this part of the world?
Bombardier Transportation remains a market leader in the Asia Pacific region. In Southeast Asia, we’ve been contributing to the region’s growth for the past 30 years by transforming its public transportation network. We have come a long way, from winning our first turnkey systems contract for a 27 kilometre rail network in Kuala Lumpur in 1992, to winning Bombardier’s biggest asset replacement contract in Asia on Singapore’s North-South & East-West Lines in 2018. We continue to partner with key regional suppliers to develop local rail capabilities and local rail talent for the long-term needs of regional customers. With our globally-proven range of product portfolios and experienced team, we are well equipped to provide the right solutions for the specific and varied requirements of rail authority and operators in the region.
You’ve also recently won contracts in Thailand and Malaysia – how do you change your approach when bidding for projects in these different countries?
As we’ve always done, with each new environment, climate and culture, we evolve and adapt to provide world-class systems – making us a successful global supplier for greenfield and brownfield projects locally. We listen, innovate and integrate – so we can successfully contribute to improved productivity and ultimately to raising rail industry performance regionally. With demands on mobility growing exponentially in Southeast Asia, Bombardier must find solutions that work for everyone. It’s a challenge no-one can meet on their own. That’s why Bombardier works as a strong team to support customers in understanding the commuter’s needs, while striving to create solutions that anticipate the needs of tomorrow and keep cities moving.
What other projects are currently in the process of delivery?
In Singapore we are upgrading 276 MOVIA metro cars for the Downtown MRT Line – comms systems and delivering 636 MOVIA metro cars for the North-South and East-West MRT Lines and ten-year services. We are also delivering 19 INNOVIA APM cars for the Bukit Panjang LRT Line, signalling system upgrade and ten-year services. In Thailand we are delivering our driverless INNOVIA monorail 300 system for Bangkok’s Pink and Yellow Lines with 20-year services, alongside an INNOVIA APM 300 system for the Gold Line, all equipped with CITYFLO 650. In Malaysia we are delivering 108 INNOVIA metro cars for the Kelana Jaya Line and midlife refurbishment of the Kelana Jaya 414 Fleet.
Two years ago, Bombardier announced a 20-year long-term maintenance services contract with BTSC in October 2018 to support the BOMBARDIER INNOVIA monorail system in delivery for Thailand’s first two monorail lines, the Bangkok pink and yellow lines. Can you give us an update on that project?
As a committed and long-term partner in this market, Bombardier is honoured to be delivering the first monorails in Bangkok. The project scope includes delivering 288 BOMBARDIER INNOVIA monorail 300 cars equipped with BOMBARDIER CITYFLO 650 automatic train control for driverless operation, and the supply of wayside subsystems. The first eight INNOVIA monorail cars arrived in Bangkok on 2 October. The wayside system delivery is progressing on track for both Pink and Yellow Lines, the next phase is testing and commissioning.
Bombardier partners with LTA and SMRT in Singapore, how do these partnerships come about?
LTA and SMRT are technically very astute, and rightfully so. Singapore has always been a podium for Bombardier to showcase innovative mobility solutions from driverless technologies to Train Control Monitoring System (TCMS) and the adoption of predictive and condition-based maintenance methodologies. We provided the first driverless APM for Singapore’s Bukit Panjang line and the first Automatic Track Inspection (ATI) system and TCMS for the Downtown line. We conducted the launch of real-time passenger load display (a first for Southeast Asia) for the Singapore Downtown Line. With Bombardier’s recent announcement to supply 636 BOMBARDIER MOVIA metro cars to LTA for the high-capacity North-South & East-West Lines, making a total of 912 metro vehicles in Singapore – it has one of Bombardier’s largest metro fleet in the world. We have a 20-year partnership with Singapore, Bombardier serves as a trusted and strong local partner, working hand-in-hand with authority to design next generation trains to anticipate the needs of tomorrow. We are proud to say, Bombardier will be moving up to 1.8 million passengers per day across Singapore by 2024. Today, Bombardier’s regional office in Singapore, led by Jayaram Naidu, Bombardier’s Southeast Asia President, support customers throughout Southeast Asia as a centre for rail vehicles and services.
Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia are all at different stages of rail development – how have you found the working culture there?
Echoing what I said earlier about our approach, with each new environment, climate and culture, we evolve and adapt to provide world-class systems – making us a successful global supplier for greenfield and brownfield projects locally. We listen, innovate and integrate. Bombardier has also delivered mainline and mass transit rail control systems in China, India, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, The Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. As well as one of the world’s largest fleets of INNOVIA metro operating in Kuala Lumpur at the Kelana Jaya Line.
How has Bombardier’s work in the region been affected by Covid-19?
At Bombardier, safety is our number one priority and operational excellence is our commitment. Many of our employees have continued to deliver essential work and supported our customers throughout the crisis to keep local transit systems moving. As we move into the post-pandemic recovery phase, we ramped up our operations from partial to full capacity. Our productivity model will now evolve so that work is safe for everyone while we mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our project execution and fleet maintenance activities.
What does the Alstom acquisition deal change for Bombardier Transportation?
It brings complementary geographical presence and attractive product additions across all rail segments regionally. It also strengthens product lines and strategic industrial capacity of the concerned entities to better address customer’s needs in Southeast Asia. Finally. It strengthens Bombardier Transportation’s focus as we collectively move towards building a more sustainable transportation across SEA.