LTA: We Want More Local Train Maintenance Expertise

The Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) wants to make train maintenance and repair more local.

Over time trains have become more and more complex. An ever increasing number of components is electrical to allow for more and more automation. This has gone hand-in-hand with manual operations.

Electronic cards are a key components for these automatic control functions. These electronic cards control many operations, such as signalling and communications. On the average LTA’s North-South East-West line train, there are roughly 800 electronic cards. Naturally, these electronic cards are vital for keeping the trains running.

Singapore LTA East West Line train interior
Singapore LTA East West Line train interior

When electronic cards go wrong, however, it can be both time-consuming and expensive to repair them. And this task often takes place at the OEM’s facilities. In Singapore’s case, most of these are overseas. The result is long downtimes.

Encouraging Local Railway Maintenance Capabilities

The LTA has been making substantial investments to enhance and modernise its railways. To ensure reliable train operations, the Singapore LTA has been looking into long-term, strategic options to nurture local capabilities for train maintenance instead of remaining dependent on the overseas expertise of OEMs.

In order to get encourage the rail industry, transport operators and OEMs to work together, the LTA has altered its procurement process for new trains. Contracts now include a local support arrangement from OEMs. The LTA is encouraging suppliers to establish local support offices in Singapore. They are to provide transport operators with training, technical and logistical support. This will allow the trains and their systems to be well-serviced over their entire life-cycle.

By having such knowledge locally, complex equipment such as electronic cards can be diagnosed and repaired rapidly, reducing the downtime of rolling stock. To start off this new local expertise, ST Engineering and rail operators SBS Transit and SMRT Trains signed a Memorandum of Understanding in June. ST Engineering’s electronic cards repair facility is a positive step towards LTA’s goals.

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