Research: Energy Storage Systems for Regenerative Braking

The study builds on the previous COMET study on Energy Efficiency, which was conducted last year as metros experienced increasing energy costs driven up by the conflict in Ukraine. This study examined how members use recovered braking energy and reviewed the extent and use of energy storage systems amongst members, particularly to increase the efficiency of regenerative braking.

The data shows that the average share of traction energy obtained from regenerative braking is 27% across members, however there are notable differences between fleets and technologies. Key findings of the study cover areas of energy storage systems, relevant technologies, and benefits of using energy storage systems. The report includes several mini-case studies of metros who currently have or are in the advanced stages of implementation of energy storage systems for regenerative braking. These include examples from Washington WMATA, Ottawa OC Transpo, Seoul Metro, and Tokyo Metro.

Research: Knowledge Management

Many metros are faced with high staff turnover and/or high levels of retirement, highlighting the need to retain institutional knowledge for incoming staff. Simultaneously, metros are undergoing various forms of digital transformation that require upskilling of new and existing staff. This study therefore reviews how metros are retaining and documenting the best practices of the past while preparing for the needs of the future.

Excerpt from Berlin BVG Knowledge Management documents

The study collected information from 24 metros as well as from a Virtual Panel Discussion with inputs from Berlin BVG, MRT Jakarta, Dubai RTA, Washington WMATA, and London Underground. Best practice examples on knowledge retention and development are summarised in the report, with additional information about the future outlook of knowledge management including the application of new technologies and generational changes in the workforce.

Research: Metro-Oriented Property Development

There are many benefits of engaging in metro-oriented property development. Some benefits accrue directly to the metro operator e.g. generating ridership, while other externalities benefit the city and local economy more widely e.g. creating employment. In the post-pandemic context, some metros identified that property development offers opportunities in generating more non-transportation related revenue, which can then bridge funding gaps when declines in ridership happen.

The study reviewed the status of property development activities and development rights across member metros, as well as different models and strategies used by metros to engage in property development including collaboration with government, developers and other stakeholders. It also compiles the examples of metro experiences creating and operating established property development models including best practices and lessons learnt.

Examples of established property development models that are covered in the report

Research: Energy Efficiency

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic downturns have had a steep impact on global energy production and supply chains. Inevitably COMET members, who are often one of the largest consumers of energy in their cities, were deeply affected by the energy crisis.

The study collected information from 32 metros, reviewing where metros procured their energy from and their trends in consumption, as well as benchmarking metros’ performance regarding energy efficiency and energy costs. The key objective of the study is to understand the impacts of energy crisis on metro operations, and the energy saving measures that have been successfully undertaken by members – which covers multiple areas such as lighting, HVAC, regenerative braking, escalators, driving modes and stabling, etc. An overview of pilot initiatives and technologies that are considered by metros in the future was also included in the report to explore further in future.

New Seoul Metro train with zero-speed regenerative braking

Research: Operational Impacts of New Fleets

Introducing new fleets is a major, transformative project for metro operators, so managing these projects and mitigating their impact on existing operations has been of interest to COMET members. The study proposer, Newcastle Nexus, has been replacing its entire fleet in recent years and thus is keen to discover metros’ experiences in this area to deploy best practices and minimise impacts.

Based on responses from 32 metros, the study explored key tasks, typical time periods, common issues, and implemented solutions during different stages of fleet introduction phase, starting from pre-commissioning stage to final acceptance. Examples of best practices for each stage were presented, along with a summary of metros’ recommendations for future fleet introductions with a focus on project planning, risk management, and quality control.

Research: Recruitment and Retention

The entire recruiting environment has changed greatly since the COVID-19 outbreak therefore many metros have experienced new issues in recruitment and retention. In addition to the pandemic impacts, other factors, such as rising cost of living, expectations of younger generation, and aging workforce, make recruitment and retention more challenging than ever before. The study looked at the extent of recruitment and retention issues that are experienced by metros, identifying reginal difference, key drivers, and most affected roles. It also reviewed staff turnover rate and average time to fill in vacancies in recent years, and the COVID impact on both indicators.

Regional difference in recruitment issues faced by metros

The report outlined implemented improvements and initiatives, with a summary of the emerging trends in improving recruitment and retention performance. Metros’ long-term plans for recruitment and retention and their advice based on their own experience are also covered in the report.

Research: Drivers of Metro Ridership

Ridership has taken on dramatically more importance at metros since the early pandemic, when public transport demand collapsed in an unparalleled way. Metro operators have observed notable changes to travel patterns since the COVID-19 outbreak and therefore have been closely monitoring ridership trends, adding ridership-related KPIs to strategic scorecards, and proactively marketing and promoting their services in new ways.

The study summarises the main enablers and barriers of ridership, metro expectations for long-term demand forecasts, and metro initiatives to drive ridership growth. The initiatives taken by metros before and during the pandemic to promote ridership growth were explored in the six key categories as shown below.

Community of Metros News: Virtual Events from January to July 2023

In addition to the resumption of in-person meetings, COMET continued to run the full virtual events programme in 2023. The virtual events held from January to July include:

  • Case Study Webinar on Drivers of Metro Ridership, Data Governance, and Energy Efficiency. Members heard presentations from TSC on the key findings of the studies, and from metro highlight presentations delivered by specific metros who have advanced development in the areas.
  • General Meeting occurred in February and July for members to share the latest development and challenges. TSC presented the latest findings from case studies and data benchmarking, as well as the recent activities and work programme of COMET.

Research: Data Governance

Transforming the large volumes of raw data that metro operators collect into actionable intelligence is a challenging task, yet critical to enhance operations, improve customer service, and develop effective future strategies. To overcome these challenges, good data governance is needed to support data management, enable informed decision-making, and ultimately improve overall performance.

Data governance mainly focuses on data-driven decision making and provides a framework for managing data throughout its lifecycle, ensuring its quality, security, privacy, and effective utilisation. It aims to assist organisations in deriving maximum value from their data assets while minimising risks and complying with legal and regulatory requirements.

The study details three main aspects of data governance (organisation, technical, and business) and presents a data governance roadmap along with metros’ best practices.

Three main aspects of data governance

Research: Combatting Crime and Disorder on Metro Networks

Managing security – and perception of security – is a growing challenge for many metro operators. In North America and Europe where crime and disorder is a significant concern for metros, perception of security in public spaces has been influenced by wider quality-of-life issues that pre-dated COVID-19 related to homelessness, drug and alcohol use and mental health. The pandemic also raised new challenges of staff unavailability and lower ridership which reduced the presence of ‘active bystanders’ on metro networks.

Factors influencing crime in metros

As such, the study aims to understand changes in crime and anti-social behaviour since the pandemic began, and to share initiatives implemented by metros to reduce incident rates and to improve customer perceptions of personal safety. This report contains data compiled from twenty-seven COMET members, including an in-depth interview with the Deputy Chief of Police at San Francisco BART. It reviews factors impacting crime in metros, key barriers to improving security, incident rates during pandemic, as well as opportunities and actions to combat crime and disorder.