A proprietary optical fibre sensing technology for monitoring railway tracks, designed by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has been adopted overseas for the first time, on the metro network in Singapore. This new maintenance practice will aim to provide continuous improvement for service reliability, safety and monitoring. With its continued collaboration with Hong Kong’s railway network, POLYU has been able to perfect its systems as well as demonstrate its successes. Now it is being introduced for the first time on Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) on two of their original lines. POLYU confirmed this deal with SMRT in February 2016 and a trial run was completed successfully in June this year. The technology will be working in full operation in early 2017.
The SMRT network transported on average 3.031 million passengers a day in 2015 and so far this year it is their eleventh consecutive annual rise since 2005. The railway line spans over 170.7km of tracks and calls at 102 stations. It has been agreed that POLYU's optical filbre sensors will be imbedded in the tracks or alongside the mechanical components of the train. POLYU testify that this technology will be more energy and cost effective for the track's operators to maximise all of the data that can be collected by the system. POLYU’s optical fibre sensing network will be installed to monitor both the trains and the tracks to quickly identify issues to improve safety and reliability. A total of six group sensors are to be installed in the tracks and trains of the East West Line and North South Line of SMRT which are the two busiest lines in the country’s metro network.
Professor Tam Hwa-Yaw, Chair Professor of Photonics and Head of Department of Electrical Engineering, PolyU ( @ ) said, "PolyU is proud to have exported its optical fibre sensing network to provide unprecedented health monitoring for mission-critical components in metro lines overseas. This PolyU technology will help enhance the performance of metro systems through an advanced predictive monitoring and maintenance regime, which is now the best practice in the railway industry and a global trend." This new technological system also won the third 2014 Berthold Leibinger Innovation Prize in Germany.
As part of the deal, the university will also offer operational training for SMRT employees and confirm that they will provide technical support for five years after the commissioning of the technology. SMRT ( @ ) staff will be able to collect monitoring data which can be sent to POLYU for additional analysis.
Over seven years, the technology has been trialled and developed on the East Rail Service, one of the ten railway lines in Hong Kong. The university's research was conducted along the 36km high speed commuter line connecting Hong Kong and China. From their trials and analysis they were able to detect 30 issues and highlighted some underlying conditions on the network. When this is compared to the current monitoring procedures, the new fibre optic system will provide more comprehensive data a lot faster to prevent poor service and potential accidents.
Dr Tan Chee Keong, Deputy Director of SMRT, Singapore, commented, "SMRT is most delighted to have PolyU's advanced railway technology installed in our metro lines. With much foresight, SMRT is the first in the world to have adopted this preventive monitoring system, enabled by the cutting-edge railway technologies pioneered by PolyU. I am sure this optical fibre sensing network installed in both the tracks and running trains will enhance the operation of our metro lines."
POLYU have agreed with SMRT that the technology will be up and running early next year.
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