Saturday, December 02, 2017

Signals required under TKL train control system

The TKL train control system requires 3 types of signals to be installed along the track. The passing train should be able to read the signals and act on them.

Type A) This tells the train that there is a station ahead and the train should reduce speed.

Type B) This tells the train exactly where to stop so that the train doors and platform doors are correctly aligned.

Type C) This tells the train the km point that it has just passed. The train will send the time and km point to the control center. These signals are installed every 0.5 km along the track. The train passes this signal every 20 seconds.

There will be redundancy of the signals. At each point, there will be signals being sent by four separate transmitters. Surely one of them will be received?

If any of the transmitter failed, it will not send any signal. The smart maintenance system will know which transmitter failed and can have it replaced.

All the signals send out a UUID to ensure that it is a valid signal. The transmitters are placed along the track and can only be read by the passing train.

The type C signals are used to compute the punctuality of the train and to adjust the speed, i.e. increase speed if the train is behind schedule and reduce speed if it is ahead of schedule.

The control center will also know the distance and speed of the preceding train. If the distance is less than 0.5 km, the following train will be set at the same speed.

There is also a collision avoidance system installed on the train. This is a last resort measure. No, not really the last resort. The last resort is a driver who can apply the brake manually.

The beauty of this approach is that it does not have to reply on GPS or radar.

Tan Kin Lian

TKL Train control system works perfectly

The TKL train control system works perfectly. It identifies the trains that have a fault and remove them from the track, so that the other trains can pass by and run on schedule.

How does it identify the faulty train?

The control system checks the punctuality of the train at every km of the track. If the train is behind schedule, it sends a signal to increase the speed. If it is ahead of schedule, it reduces the speed.

If the train continues to be behind schedule for 2 minutes, it is likely to be a faulty train. The passengers are discharged at the next station and the train is moved off to a side rail. This allows the other trains to pass by.

This situation can be seen clearly in the monitor screen here:

A train that is behind schedule for 0.5 minute appears in the screen. If this is a temporary situation, the train can catch up on the schedule and will disappear from the screen.

If the train is faulty, the delay will get worse, it will start to hold up the other trains. You can see up to 4 trains behind at 0.5 km interval.

When the faulty train is moved off the track, the other trains can move ahead and be on schedule.

The simulation despatches a train every 1 minute during peak hours. The control system works perfectly.

Tan Kin Lian

Friday, December 01, 2017

Torture of disabled waitress

Are the sentences given to the couple who tortured the disabled waitress adequate?

Give your vote in

Mandatory death sentence on drug offences

Malaysia has removed the mandatory death sentence for drug offences. They will let the judge decide on the appropriate sentence. Should Singapore adopt the same approach?

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A train control system at 10% of the cost and 2 times of capacity

I am giving a bonus to SMRT, LTA and to the transport minister.  They can use my TKL train control system at 10% of the price that they paid for the Thales system.

Here is the bonus.

My system can handle all the 3 lines (NS, EW and CC) in 2 directions, i.e. a total of 6 lines.

They can schedule a train to run every 1 minute during the peak hour and 1.5 min during the off peak hour. This is twice of the capacity of their previous system.

Anyway, the Thales system is now operating at a lower capacity due to signal problems.

Don't believe me?

Take a look at the monitor screen in

You can see some of the trains running slowly (due to simulated train and track fault) and holding back the following trains at a distance of 0.5 km.

When the faulty train is delayed by longer than 2 minutes, the central control directs the train to offload all the passengers and move to a side rail. This allows the following trains to pass and be back on schedule.

This can be seen in the monitor program. It is quite realistic.

If SMRT, LTA and Khaw BW wants to claim this bonus, they can contact me at

Tan Kin Lian

Why spend $195 million to eliminate 400 jobs?

I cannot understand the logic of the people in charge, up to the transport minister.

They spent $195 million to install the Thales system to allow a 20% increase in the number of trains running along the lines.

I think that their real purpose is to introduce a driverless system and eliminate 400 jobs of train drivers.

If the driver cost an average of $50,000 a year, the elimination of 400 jobs save $20 million a year. But the expendure of 1$195 million means that it takes 10 years to recover the cost of investment.

At the end of 10 years, we may have to spend another large sum to upgrade the signal system again, right?

Why try to eliminate 400 jobs when we are using 900 more maintenance staff compared to Taipei MRT for the same number of visitors?

After upgrading the signal system, we are getting more train breakdowns compared to the old system.

Adopt a smart maintenance approach

SMRT has 2,900 maintenance staff and handles about 2 million rides a day. This information is obtained from its train operations report.

Taipei MRT has a maintenace staff of 2,000 and handles the same number of rides. This information is obtained from a recent news report.

Why does SMRT need 45% more staff compared to Taipei MRT? Is it more inefficient and unproductive?

I wish to suggest how SMRT can improve the productivity of its maintenance staff. It can make better use of data analytics to identify the equipments that need to be replaced or repaired.

How can this be done?

Most of the equipment or devices send some data to the server to indicate its status. An equipment that is not functioning will not send any data. By analysing the database, it is possible to identify the malfunctioning equipments. The maintenance and inspection work can be directed towards these equipments. 

This approach may not apply to every equipment. But it can be applied to some of the equipments and help to improve the productivity. It is the smart way, isn't it?

I would describe it as a "smart maintenance" approach. I suspect that Taipei MRT probably uses the data in this manner to identify what needs to be rectified. It probably accounts for their higher productivity.

I hope that SMRT will consider this approach.

Fee benchmark for medical procedures

The Ministry of Health will introduce fee benchmark for medical procedures.

This is a good step. It is necessary. It is long overdue.

I congratulate the health minister Gan Kim Yong for taking this initiative.

Wait a minute. He has been health minister for over 6 years. Why does he took so long to realize that a serious problem has to be corrected?

Never mind. At least he realizes it at last. Anyway, this is the standard of Lee HL's ministers. It is deplorable.…/ministry-of-health-to-intr…

SMRT should revert to the old signal system

There is something seriously wrong with the new signal system installed by SMRT. We did not have this kind of problem in the past.

I do not believe that a new signal system should cause this kind of frequent breakdowns and delays.
The SMRT trains run on two separate lines. They do not mix with other lines. The trains do not change from one line to another.

There is no need to introduce a complicated signal system for a simple operation and end up with endless troubles.

I suggest that SMRT should consider reverting to the old system. They can cancel the contract for $195 million to install the new system. They can look for a better alternative.

I read from Wikipedia that the old system can be reinstalled. See here.

Should e-bikes be banned?

Should e-scooters be banned from the roads?
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Should should commuters do about the frequent train breakdowns?

What should commuters do about the frequent breakdowns of the SMRT trains?

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Increase in GST

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - When do you expect the government to increase GST?

61% of the people who voted said that the increase will occur within two years after the next general election.

33% said that it will occur before the next general election.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Prices n Fairprice and Cold Storage

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - What is the difference in prices between Fairprice and Cold Storage supermarkets?

37% of the people who voted said that Fairprice is cheaper by about 5% before the rebate. 31% said that Fairprice is cheaper in only a few items.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Is there a need for the government to raise taxes?

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Is there a need for the govenrment to raise taxes?

54% of the people who voted said that the government does not need to increase tax as they have sufficient surpluses.

35% said that the government should be more prudent in their spending and should cut down on wasteful expenditure.

See a breakdown of the votes in

Are the maintenance staff of SMRT productive?

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Are the maintenance staff of SMRT productive?

55% of the people who voted said that the supervision of the staff is poor. 24% said that the staff morale is low. 21% said that they are new to the job.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Silent protest in MRT train

Should Jolovan Wham be charged for organizing the silent protest in the MRT train?
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A high level of depression

What is the most important cause of the high level of depression in Singapore.
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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A new signal system for SMRT

I have built a new signal system for SMRT.

The new system is explained in

1. This is a simulation of the North South Line of the MRT system in Singapore.
2. It dispatches a train every 2 minute during the peak hours and every 3 minutes during the off-peak hours and stops service between midnight and 6 am. The train travels at an average speed of 60 kmp and stays for 30 seconds at a station for passengers to disembark and embark.
3. The simulator varies the speed according to the condition of the train and the track.
4. A signal is sent to the control center showing the time that a train passes each km point along the track.
5. The control center calculates the punctuality of the train and increases the speed if the train is behind the schedule or reduces the speed if the train is ahead of schedule.
6. An collision avoidance device is installed on each train to ensure a gap of at least 0.5 km from the train ahead. If this distance falls below this gap, the brake is applied automatically.
7. If a train is 2 minutes behind schedule due to a train fault, the control center directs the train to be moved off the track so that the following trains can pass this faulty train.

The total cost of the system, including the devices on the trains and the tracks and the software for the control center should cost not more than $19.5 million. This is just 10% of the budget that was paid for the Thales system.

The Thales system has given a lot of problems and caused several breakdowns and a serious collision.

My system should perform better. However, I need SMRT and LTA to have an open mind an consider my system.

I have built a simulation to show how 60 trains perform on the two directions of the NS lines during the day. I have also built in the simulation for three trains, T1, T2 and T3, to develop train faults. The control center software was able to detect the problem and move them off the track. This allowed the remaining trains to perform normally. My system does not have the delays of several hours that is experienced now.

I hope that SMRT and LTA will at least monitor my simulation.

Tan Kin Lian

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Here are some options before raising GST

Someone asked me - is it fair for the government to raise taxes when they are using only half of the investment income from the reserves. Should they use all of the income before they start to raise taxes? What is the rationale for using only half of the income?

Here is my answer.

I support the rationale to use only half of the investment income. The other half of the investment income should be retained to preserve the real value of the reserves.

Over the long term, the average investment yield is 6%. Half of this yield, say 3%, should be considerd as being contributed by inflation. The other half can be considered as real income.

However, before raising taxes, the government should look into the following items rigorously:

a) Are we spending money prudently? The spending of $195 million for the new MRT signalling system is an example. Is this spending prudent?

There is just one of many cases of big item spending. We need a system to evaluate the spending to be prudent and necesary. We should avoid wasteful spending.

b) Should a part of the proceed for land sale be used to fund the infrastructure spending, rather than rely on taxation?

c) Should additional taxes come from the wealthy and the high income earners, rather than from GST, which hits the lower income hardest (even though some of those affected are compensated by GST rebates).

Shop online for groceries

Should consumers shop for groceries online?
Give your vote in

Is the government too intrusive?

Is the PAP government too intrusive? Give your vote in

Are we paying too much for the Thales signal system?

Are we paying too much ($195 million) for the Thales signal system?

Give your vote in

How to fix the problems with the NS and EW lines

The NS and EW lines had broken down frequently.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - What is the best way to fix the problems with the NS and EW lines?

50% of the people who voted said that SMRT should recruit more engineers and technicians to carry out the repair work at night. (I learned recently that SMRT had 45% more people on maintenance compared to Taipei MRT which carries a similar number of passengers).

The other people voted for three other options.

You can see the breakdown of the votes in

Should Khaw BW continue as transport minister?

The performance of the MRT system worsened considerably after Khaw BW was appointed as minister of transport. He was supposed to lead the change to solve the problem.

I asked this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd - Should Khaw BW continue as minister of transport?

62% of the people who voted said that he should resign. Another 20% said that he should commit hara kiri - which is a worse outcome for him. This made a total of 82%.

Another 18% said that he should continue to turn the situation around.

See the breakdown of the votes in

Is Singapore maintaining a high standard of integrity and non-corruptibility?

In the past, Singapore has a global brand name for a high standard of integrity and non-corruptibility. Are we maintaining this standard or have we slightened in recent years?

I posed this question in The Wisdom of the Crowd. 78% of those who voted expressed serious concern that the standard had slackened considerably. Another 14% said that we had slackened by not to a serious extend. Only 9% said that we are maintaining our standard.

See a breakdown of the votes in

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