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NTU EEE and SMRT to trial new monitoring systems on the train network to improve rail reliability


A unique sensor system that can accurately detect MRT train door faults and alert engineering teams in advance, is one of the fruits of a dedicated research collaboration between Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and SMRT.

The new door sensors monitor air pressure, movement speed and power systems for the pneumatic train doors. Aimed at enhancing train reliability, the sensor system is now undergoing trials on a train serving Singapore’s North-South and East-West Lines, and will progressively be implemented in phases across the network.

This is one of 13 ongoing projects under development at the SMRT-NTU Smart Urban Rail Corporate Laboratory situated in NTU EEE, which was officially opened today by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance and Chairman of the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF).

The $60 million joint lab was established through a partnership between NTU and SMRT, supported by NRF that began two years ago.

The lab is one of 12 corporate labs supported by the NRF, which facilitates the setting up of corporate labs via public-private partnerships.

NRF CEO Professor Low Teck Seng said, “NRF has facilitated the setting up of several corporate laboratories so that universities can work with companies to carry out industry-relevant research. We are encouraged that the partnership between SMRT and NTU has derived solutions that can now be deployed to improve rail operation and benefit commuters. We will carry on our work to strengthen the link between researchers and companies so that R&D continues to improve the competitiveness of our companies and the lives of Singaporeans.”

The joint lab is also the sixth NRF-supported corporate lab located on NTU’s Smart Campus.

NTU President Professor Subra Suresh said, “The NTU Smart Campus is already a hotbed of cutting-edge technologies, which aims to demonstrate how tech-enabled solutions can benefit and improve society. The innovative research undertaken by the SMRT-NTU Smart Urban Rail Corporate lab attests to NTU’s drive in ensuring that research remains relevant, impactful, and beneficial to society. The joint lab also provides an interdisciplinary training platform for our students and researchers, allowing them to be at the forefront of new technologies as we nurture highly skilled technology leaders.” ”.

SMRT Corporation Group CEO, Mr Neo Kian Hong, said, “We have been putting in a lot of effort to improve rail reliability and sustain the progress made. At the same time, we will tap on top-notch engineering resources in Singapore to solve problems that affect our train services, such as train door, track or power supply issues. We will work closely with the Land Transport Authority to test these new technologies on our network, and eventually implement them island-wide to improve the MRT services we provide to the public.”

More trials on track to enhance rail reliability

Starting next year, three other innovations developed at the joint lab will begin network trials.

The first is a train mounted, real-time condition monitoring system that can pick up defects on the power rails and running rails along the network in advance. It achieves this by using radio frequency technology to monitor the electrical contact between the trains and the track.

Expected to start trials in the first quarter of 2019, this will allow speedier intervention by engineering teams, minimising the risk of service delays due to track faults.

Another innovation automates the inspection of train axles using a portable robot that comes equipped with a track-mounted sensor.

The automated inspection system saves time and manpower costs, as checks can be done without disassembling the train wheels and axles from the train bogie. Train safety will improve as inspections can be carried out more frequently, and the system is targeted for trials by the second quarter of 2019.

A high precision mobile laser-cladding repair system that uses laser technology to repair defective rails is also being developed. Worn-out rails could be repaired overnight (within regular servicing hours) rather than over three nights, as it currently takes.

This would enhance maintenance productivity and reduce inconvenience to commuters as they would be less affected by changes to train service hours. The repair system will be ready for trials by 2020.

Please see Annex A for more details on the four projects.

=== END ===

Media contacts

SMRT Corporation Ltd
SMRT Corporate Communications
Email: media(a.t.)

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Nur Amin Shah (Mr)
Manager, Media Relations
Corporate Communications Office
Email: aminshah(a.t.)

National Research Foundation Singapore
Hoh Suk Mun (Ms)
Assistant Head
Corporate Communications
Email: HOH_Suk_Mun(a.t.)

About SMRT Corporation Ltd

SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) is a public transport services provider. Our primary business is to manage and operate train services on the North-South Line, East-West Line, the Circle Line, the Thomson East-Coast Line (operational in 2019) and the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit. This is complemented by our bus, taxi and private hire vehicle services.

We have set our core values to be Integrity, Service and Excellence, and commit SMRT to providing safe, reliable and comfortable service for our commuters

About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and Graduate colleges. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).

Ranked 12th in the world, NTU has been placed the world’s top young university for the past five years. The University’s main campus is frequently listed among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world and it has 57 Green Mark-certified (equivalent to LEED-certified) building projects comprising more than 230 buildings, of which 95% are certified Green Mark Platinum. Apart from its main campus, NTU also has a campus in Singapore’s healthcare district.

For more information, visit

About the National Research Foundation Singapore

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a department within the Prime Minister's Office. The NRF sets the national direction for research, innovation and enterprise (RIE) in Singapore. It seeks to invest in science, technology and engineering, build up the technological capacity of our companies, encourage innovation by industry to exploit new opportunities that drive economic growth, and facilitate public-private partnerships to address national challenges.

Under RIE2020, NRF is committed to create greater value in Singapore from our investment in research, innovation and enterprise through 1) closer integration of research thrusts, 2) stronger dynamic towards the best teams and ideas, 3) sharper focus on value creation, and 4) better optimised RIE manpower.

For more information, visit

Related News Articles:
  • Train door sensors may cut delays at MRT stations
    The Straits Times, page B2 and online (with blurb on page A2)

  • SMRT, NTU develop new systems to detect train door faults, enhance rail reliability
    Channel NewsAsia, 29 Aug, 10pm

  • SMRT and NTU is developing a train door sensor system that is undergoing trials on East-West and North-South MRT lines
    Channel 8, 29 Aug, 10pm

  • SMRT, NTU develop new systems to monitor train door faults, track defects
    The Straits Times online, 29 Aug (with video provided by CCO)

  • SMRT and NTU jointly develop a new solution: A train door sensor to predict faults and prompt early maintenance
    Lianhe Zaobao, page 2 and online

  • New sensor system that monitors MRT train door faults to undergo testing
    Lianhe Zaobao online, 29 Aug

  • SMRT, NTU trialling new sensor system to detect train door faults, improve rail reliability 
    TODAY, 29 Aug (with video provided by CCO)

  • SMRT, NTU develop a new system to monitor door, track problems
    Berita Harian, page 4

  • A train door sensor system to predict faults and prompt early maintenance
    Shin Min Daily News, 29 Aug, page 6

  • SMRT, NTU develop new systems to detect train door faults, enhance rail reliability
    Channel NewsAsia online, 29 Aug (with video provided by CCO)

  • SMRT and NTU is developing a train door sensor system that is undergoing trials on East-West and North-South MRT lines
    Channel 8 online, 29 Aug (with video provided by CCO)
  • SMRT, NTU develop new systems to improve door faults, efficiently
    Berita Mediacorp, 29 Aug
  • New SMRT-NTU lab out to improve rail reliability, safety
    Yahoo Singapore, 29 Aug (with video provided by CCO)

  • NTU and SMRT develop sensor that could detect train door faults
    Connected to India


 Published on 31 Aug 2018

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