Singapore adopts optical-fiber sensing technology for metro lines

Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit system (SMRT) has adopted Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s (PolyU’s) proprietary optical-fiber sensing technology to monitor its metro lines. PolyU is the pioneer of this technology which will be used in working trains for continuous monitoring of the tracks.

Previously, inspection for rail tracks was conducted after closing the tracks to traffic, but in comparison, this new technology allows continuous, in-service monitoring. As a result, it enhances service reliability by precisely identifying and rectifying defects.

Professor Tam Hwa-Yaw, chair of the Photonics Department and head of the Electrical Engineering Department at PolyU, said the university was proud to have exported its optical fiber sensing network to Singapore, which would result in unprecedented monitoring of critical metro line components.

“This 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,” he said.

Professor Hwa-Yaw added that the move showed how collaboration with the industry could help an academic institution in Hong Kong develop a world-leading technology.
Two of the busiest lines in Singapore’s SMRT, the East West Line and the North South Line, have been selected for installation of six groups of sensors in the tracks and trains.

The agreement between PolyU and SMRT was signed in February 2016, and a pilot test was successfully completed in June. The permanent monitoring system, scheduled to be completed in early 2017, is currently being installed in the two lines. Meanwhile, SMRT staff will be trained by PolyU in operating the system, and the monitoring data collected could be sent to PolyU in real-time for analysis if required.

“SMRT is most delighted to have PolyU’s advanced railway technology installed in our metro lines,” said Dr. Tan Chee Keong, deputy director of SMRT, Singapore. He maintained that, with much foresight, SMRT was the first in the world to have adopted the preventive monitoring system which had been enabled by the cutting-edge railway technologies pioneered by PolyU.

“I am sure this optical fiber sensing network installed in both the tracks and running trains will enhance the operation of our metro lines,” he said.

More information can be found atPhotonics Media.

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