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Join the team that keeps Singapore’s world-class rail system on the go
By Mary Wu
SGRail Industry expert Low Tian Leng feels that young engineers will be excited to know that the industry is leveraging the latest technology to reshape Singapore’s public transport landscape.

As an SGRail Industry scholar, you can gain relevant experience via a structured developmental programme while pushing the frontiers of engineering and technology

What if you could have a hand in shaping exciting projects that have a “rail” impact, such as the upcoming Cross Island Line, or improve the commuting experience in Singapore so that it is smarter, faster and more convenient?

The Singapore Rail (SGRail) Industry Scholarship programme aims to nurture those with a passion for all things related to trains, engineering, technology, and transport.

Centrally awarded and managed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), the SGRail Industry scholarship offers scholars many unique opportunities within LTA as well as at SBS Transit Limited (SBST) or SMRT Corporation Limited, where they can push the frontiers of engineering and technology to reshape Singapore’s public transport landscape.

We speak to rail industry expert Mr Low Tian Leng, who understands the perspectives of both LTA and the public transport operators (PTOs). With over a decade of experience in the rail industry, the 37-year-old holds two portfolios: deputy director, Rolling Stock and Depot Engineering at LTA; and head, System Reliability and Asset Management at SBST, where he is currently seconded to.

Q: What makes the SGRail Industry Scholarship a good stepping-stone into this field?

Our scholars can obtain ground experience as an engineer, in both the public and the private sectors. Through a structured developmental programme that includes various postings to both LTA and the PTOs, SGRail Industry Scholars will hone deep rail engineering domain knowledge, including rolling stock, signaling, power, permanent way and communications as well as control systems. 

LTA and the PTOs calibrated the scholarship to ensure it remains relevant to the industry and meets the interests of applicants while providing solutions on the ground.

To that end, we have also expanded our skill sets beyond mechanical and electrical engineers to include digitalisation, data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Q: Tell us more about the work that you do.

At LTA, I am working with the team on the deliverables of several new lines such as the Cross Island Line, Jurong Region Line and technical details of new train buys for the North East Line, Circle Line, as well as both Light Rail systems.

As part of the SBST secondment, I am part of the team that is working on leveraging technologies and digitalisation to prepare the railway to be ready for new challenges such as sustainability. We are working on leveraging technology, automation and data analytics to enhance the efficiency of different work processes in the train depots.

We harness the convenience of artificial intelligence and video analytics to identify and rectify defects on the tracks or vehicles.

This not only reduces reliance on manpower, but also pushes the boundaries of predictive maintenance which will significantly elevate our rail reliability efforts. Software is also used to optimise depot workflows. Through simulation platforms, we can assess if procedures are effective before committing to actual changes on the ground.

Q: Why would you encourage aspiring engineers to join this sector?

Mechanical and electrical engineers can pick up asset management skills on the job. They will also be excited to know that we are leveraging the latest innovations in Building Information Modelling (BIM) and software simulation to better visualize workflow across time and space.

We also have a wealth of data that can be interpreted using reliability assessments such as Weibull distribution and Monte Carlo simulation – mathematical models that identify flaws and do risk analysis – to unveil trends that can contribute to predictive maintenance. This will help our engineers gain a deeper knowledge of the system while developing their skills in analysing data trends.

Q: What is the future of rail engineering?

To maximise land use in land-scarce Singapore, we have to either go deeper or higher in terms of our rail infrastructure construction. In the next decade, there will be new challenges as we construct rail lines under existing buildings and implement technological innovations to strengthen our rail performance.

With the increasing pervasion of digitalisation in the railway industry at every layer – from design to procurement to manufacturing to operations and maintenance – we will also continue to adopt emerging technologies such as predictive and prescriptive analytics, telematics, reliability, condition monitoring and advanced asset management, and incorporate these into our trains in the future.

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