Factsheet: Technology for Depots and Trains to Improve Rail Reliability

News Releases 13 Nov 2017 Factsheet rail reliability technological innovations

    Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Mr Khaw Boon Wan visited the Tuas West Depot this morning, where the Land Transport Authority (LTA) – with the support of ST Engineering and public transport operators, SMRT Trains and SBS Transit – demonstrated how nine technological innovations can help value-add and enhance the efficiency of different work processes within and beyond the train depots.

2.  By incorporating technology, such as automation and digital information management, into day-to-day processes, railway operators will be able to achieve greater work efficiency and productivity. At the same time, these technological advances also facilitates predictive maintenance, allowing our railway engineers to monitor, detect and rectify potential faults before it happens, thereby improving our overall rail reliability to ensure smooth journeys for commuters.  Before deploying any new initiatives, LTA conducts rigorous assessments and testing together with operators to ensure that such investments are suitable for the local environment and value-add to the work processes of railway professionals.

Work Processes


Data Collection

1. Automatic Track Inspection System
2. Automatic Vehicle Inspection System

Data Processing

3. Integrated Maintenance & Diagnostics Centre

Maintenance and Operations

4. Maintenance Management Mobile Device
5. Depot Facility Management Display
6. Augmented Reality
7. Virtual Reality (VR)
8. Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)
9. Autonomous Mobile Robot (TUG)


1. Automatic Track Inspection (ATI)

What: The ATI is a system of cameras, lasers, and sensors installed on trains. It can provide the first line of defence against defects or faults which may occur. The line cameras are able to detect defects like rail cracks, missing fasteners or even foreign objects out of the norm.

Benefits: If any anomaly is found after the comparison, the maintenance team can assist with early interventions and assess the next course of action. This helps to improve rail reliability.

Implementation: LTA has installed ATI on four Downtown Line trains which are already in operation today. This technology will progressively be implemented to all other rail lines.

2. Automated Vehicle Inspection (AVI)

What: Similar to the ATI system, the AVI is a system of cameras, lasers and sensors installed along the sides of the rail tracks to monitor the health of our trains. Monitoring capabilities include current collector device shoe wear, gearbox temperature, axle temperature, among others.

Benefits: When a train passes through this system, data is picked up and sent back to the depot where an immediate response is issued, instead of having to wait for an inspection to be done after service hours each day. This improves reliability as faults are detected early for rectification.

Implementation: LTA has awarded a tender for an AVI system in Tuas West Depot and Mandai Depot. The first AVI system will commence operations in the Tuas West Depot next year.


3. Integrated Maintenance & Diagnostics Centre (IMDC)

What: The Integrated Maintenance & Diagnostics Centre (IMDC) is envisaged to be the hub of maintenance works and diagnostics in the future.

Benefits: Data is collected by monitoring systems and then consolidated in the IMDC into meaningful information where engineers can decide on the most appropriate actions expediently to enhance work processes. This improves reliability as the maintenance process takes place simultaneously to revenue service.

Implementation: LTA will conduct a trial of the IMDC next year before assessing the feasibility for full implementation at Mandai Depot.


4. Maintenance Management Mobile Device (MMMD)

What: The MMMD allows technicians and staff on the ground to access the Maintenance Management System (MMS) on-the-go. Maintenance history and records will be available on tablets.

Benefits: In the event that any defect is found on any equipment or the train itself, the technician would be able to capture an image and send it directly to the maintenance supervisor for his immediate response. This improves reliability as the maintenance process begins as the faults are picked up, not during the limited engineering hours.

Implementation: MMMD will be deployed at the Mandai Depot once the depot is operational in 2019.

5. Depot Facility Management Display (DFMD)

What: Currently, staff and workers on the ground have to check written records to have an overview of the activities ongoing in the workshop. The DFMD helps to improve this process as it displays useful information prominently at each test track. Workers in the depot would be able to have a quick overview of information such as train number, type of on-going works, details of the person-in-charge at a quick glance.

Benefits: The time-savings enhances the productivity of the maintenance staff as they do not need to look for the information from different sources.

Implementation: LTA will commence a proof-of-concept trial for DFMD in Tuas West Depot next year before implementing it in Mandai Depot in 2019.

6. Augmented Reality (AR)

What: As the AR technology matures, LTA is looking to incorporate AR into training to provide significant benefits especially in the area of training both operation and maintenance staff.

Benefits: Trainers can ensure the syllabus would be followed through consistently and completely, thereby enhancing quality of maintenance inspections. Graphics, and even video overlays will help technicians to be more aware of the technical requirements of maintenance procedures, and also bring new hires up to speed in a shorter period of time.

Implementation: LTA will commence a proof-of-concept trial for AR in Tuas West Depot next year and further assess its feasibility for future projects.

7. Virtual Reality (VR)

What: As it is not possible to frequently dismantle huge and complicated railway components like the train bogie or the train carbody, such training opportunities are limited for new trainees. With VR technology, we could let trainees interact, dismantle and assemble the components repeatedly through guided lessons.

Benefits: By increasing the amount of time that the trainees spend with these components, we can increase the technicians’ competency and the quality of the maintenance work carried out.

Implementation: Similar to AR, LTA will commence a proof-of-concept trial for VR in Tuas West Depot next year and further assess its feasibility for future projects.

8. Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)

3D Printed Handle

Original Handle

What: Additive manufacturing (or 3D printing) is a growing industry to cater to different needs.

Benefits: LTA and rail operators can overcome logistical problems such as having to stock spare parts or wait for deliveries from overseas. LTA will also be able to produce quick prototypes for new designs instead of going through a lengthy or expensive manufacturing process. With this, the time taken for trials and tests of new concepts can be shortened.

Implementation: LTA will commence proof-of-concept trials for 3D-printing technology for suitable components next year.

9. Autonomous Mobile Robot (TUG)

What: The autonomous mobile robot possesses full omnidirectional motion capability. It has the ability to navigate itself, even with obstacles in its way.

Benefits: A load of 635 kg is possible for a specific variant of this robot, which will remove the heavy lifting that the technicians usually do for large and bulky components, and saves them time and effort and enable them to perform the real maintenance work.

Implementation: When designing future depots, LTA is looking at possible ways to integrate the deployment of these robots into the maintenance workflows. When the use of these robots are seamlessly integrated within the design of new depots, they would be able to call lifts on their own, make trips to different levels and perform tasks they are assigned to do. LTA will further assess the use of these robots for future depots.


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