Singapore – SMRT, Singapore’s multi-modal transport operator, has announced it has brought in engineers who specialise in subjects such as technology, building infrastructure and operations and support (O&S) for up to six months to help ongoing efforts to review and improve train maintenance.
In a similar effort, last month SMRT announced it was hiring 200 new engineers.
The O&S engineers will help SMRT Trains better manage the life cycle of complex engineering systems. For SMRT Trains, such expertise will reinforce continuing efforts to update its maintenance regime for equipment, some of which dates back 30 years.
A team of five engineers from the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) will be attached to SMRT Trains starting December this year.
Seah Moon Ming, chairman of SMRT said: ‘We must gather the best engineering talents and all necessary resources in Singapore to support SMRT in its drive towards rail operations and maintenance excellence. SMRT needs to critically review its O&S and maintenance policies, manuals and procedures, and update these to world-best standards in railway management.’
The DSTA team will review and recommend improvements to SMRT’s O&S capability, covering organisation and policies, processes and procedures, and competency and training. At the same time, Taipei Rapid Transit will be sending a team to work with SMRT Trains to conduct a thorough and comprehensive review to examine the way we operate and maintain the MRT network.
SMRT announced back in September that it had set up a joint task force for safety and security with the National Transport Workers Union (NTWU) of Singapore. The main focus of the task force was to establish a Track Access Management system for better access control for personnel needing to work on the tracks and the use of geo-fencing to demarcate parts of the track that people must not enter.
Other changes to strengthen workplace health and safety include changing work tools from metal to composite material to reduce the risk of electrocution.
At that time SMRT appointed a Safety Review Committee (SRC) comprising local and international industry experts to advise on safety aspects of SMRT’s network and workplace. The panel’s recommendations centered on improvements to work instructions, operating procedures and workforce discipline.
This recent focus on improving safety and operational standards comes after an incident on October 7 when flood water inundated tunnels on one stretch of the MRT and a small fire was spotted in another tunnel elsewhere on the network on the same day. The disruption caused by the flood waters lasted for almost an entire day.
The breakdown was one of the worst in SMRT’s history and questions were asked in Singapore’s parliament about the operator’s worsening reliability record.