Saturday, November 25, 2017

An alternative to the $195 million system

LTA and SMRT spent $195 million to install a new signaling system for the NS and EW lines. The aim is to allow more trains to run on the line and to reduce the interval from 120 seconds to 100 seconds. I find this reduction to be quite small.

I understand that in some cities the train run at 1 min intervals during peak hours. This can be achieved without installing an expensive system.

If there is a 1 min separation and the train travel at 60 kpm, there is a distance of 1 km between trains. We do not need an expensive system to manage the movement of the trains.

This is how I envisage that a system could be constructed. I would install a "collision avoidance system" in each train that will achieve the 0.5 km separation. If the train in front is more than 0.5 km ahead, the train at travel at the "full speed" of 60 kpm. If the distance falls below 0.5 km, the following train will slow down.

We also need the train to be able to detect a sensor on approaching each station and slow down its speed and come to a complete halt on the platform. We also need each train to receive a signal from the control center to slow down or speed up or to move off the track.

I would make a guess that the cost of installing the intelligence in each train would be $50,000 to $100,000.

We have 200 trains on operating on the NS and EW lines. A budget of $10 to $20 million would be sufficient to equip these trains.

We will need a central system to monitor the passengers in the stations and to send out more trains during the peak periods and reduce the trains during the off peak period. The control center should also give instructions for trains to move off the track, if they are not working well.  Perhaps this central system can cost another $10 million.

I would still employ 400 drivers for the 200 trains at a budget of $50,000 per driver. This will cost $20 million a year and give employment to 400 people. As the trains are virtually automated, the driver does not have much to do, except in an emergency. I would assign to the drivers the general duty of "keeping an eye on the train".

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