Rail industry needs quicker manpower boost amid rapid MRT expansion: Janil Puthucheary

Rail industry needs quicker manpower boost amid rapid MRT expansion: Janil Puthucheary

Dr Janil presenting the top prize of the Singapore Mobility Challenge
Dr Janil presenting the top prize of the Singapore Mobility Challenge to Singapore-based company Azendian. (Photo: Jeraldine Yap)

SINGAPORE: The Government needs to move decisively to accelerate the rail industry's transformation, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary on Thursday (Aug 22), citing the "unprecedented pace" in which the MRT network is expanding. 

With several new rail lines including the Thomson-East Coast and Jurong Region Lines coming over the next decade or so, the authorities are working with rail operators and the National Transport Workers' Union on manpower development plans, which will be finalised later this year. 

READ: New stations, line extensions planned for Singapore’s rail network

READ: Government accepts Land Transport Master Plan 2040 recommendations

“Over the next 10 years, as a result of all these new lines and all these new services, and these new service standards, we will need more than 2,000 new engineers and technicians … As we build this more extensive rail network to serve Singaporeans, we will need to equip rail workers with the skills to help them excel in their role,” he said.

Dr Janil was speaking at the inaugural Land Transport Industry Day, which brought together about 300 leaders from the public transport and point-to-point operators, unions and associations. 

The event aims to promote greater engagement and foster stronger partnerships between stakeholders in the industry.

CLOSE PARTNERSHIP WITH STAKEHOLDERS

Dr Janil said the close partnership the Government has with the labour movement and industry partners has laid a strong foundation for transformation efforts.

For example, a tripartite platform was set up to look at strategic and regulatory issues in the point-to-point sector as part of the larger Land Transport Industry Transformation Map.

Dr Janil speaking with participants
Dr Janil speaking with participants at the Land Transport Industry Day. (Photo: Jeraldine Yap)

“Apart from just dispute management, I hope these platforms will also help to catalyse the development of best practices among operators to better safeguard the interests of commuters and drivers. 

"This is a model of close collaboration that can and should be extended to other parts of our land transport landscape,” he said.

COMPANIES RECOGNISED FOR INNOVATION

At the event, three companies were recognised for providing innovative ways to meet the needs of the land transport sector. 

The top three winners of the Singapore Mobility Challenge walked away with cash prizes and project funding of between S$5,000 and S$15,000. 

READ: New skills framework for rail, bus jobs to support Industry Transformation Map

READ: Review of transport fare formula needed to reflect rising cost of operating MRT system: Khaw Boon Wan

The competition was launched in June this year by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and public transport operators SMRT and SBS Transit. It attracted 112 submissions from 21 countries.

Taking the top prize was local company Azendian, which proposed a customised, integrated manpower planning system, which uses data analytics to assign staff to train and bus operations and maintenance schedules. 

For example, the system will allocate more experienced staff to handle more difficult tasks. This could increase the efficiency of operations and potentially reduce train delays.

Dr Janil presenting the top prize of the Singapore Mobility Challenge
Dr Janil presenting the top prize of the Singapore Mobility Challenge to Singapore-based company Azendian. (Photo: Jeraldine Yap)

The second prize went to Israel-based company Silentium, whose technology can reduce the noise from the LRT network by up to 90 per cent using predictive cancelling waves. 

Another Singapore company, Carmen Automotive, won the third prize for its system, which can predict when vehicles need to be maintained, in turn minimising service disruptions.

A new programme was also launched to encourage small- and medium-sized enterprises to come up with innovative solutions for problems in the land transport sector.

Under the Gov-PACT programme, companies will propose solutions in various areas, for example detecting corrosion in lamp posts, measuring street lighting levels and maintaining bus tyres. 

Shortlisted proposals will get support from LTA and Enterprise Singapore to develop their products, conduct pilot runs and commercialise their projects.

Source: CNA/zl(hs)

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