Signalling is a safety- and service-critical metro asset. Across CoMET and Nova metros, signalling is the second-highest cause of delay incidents, and cause approximately half of all delay incidents for very reliable metros. This study analysed information from 26 metros about their signalling equipment, looking in detail at six sub-assets: point machines, interlockings, track circuits, axle counters, train stops, and signal heads. The study compares these sub-assets, including their age, reliability, and inspection/maintenance regimes, and collects initiatives that metros are pursuing to improve signalling reliability.
Metros with older and more traditional signalling systems tend to have more trackside signalling equipment, which may lead to more potential for failure and greater need for maintenance interventions to maintain reliability. To improve signalling reliability metros are rationalising their asset bases, as well as pursuing both solutions that can be retrofitted into their existing systems and new systems such as CBTC.
The Digital Transformation of Metros study reviewed the strategies, initiatives, and technologies used by metros to implement digital transformation for four key purposes: safety improvement, station operations and management, train operations, and depot management. In recent years there have been several digital trends observed in metros, including provision of real-time train loading information, centralised station management, customer-facing staff equipped with tablets, installation of passenger counting equipment, etc. Metros’ long-term digital transformation plans typically involve multi-phase programmes with strong support from management, employee expertise, and partnership with external parties. Ultimately, digital transformation is highly related to transforming employees. Therefore the study summarised metros’ good practices to create a digital culture, as well as ways to remove barriers along the journey to digital transformation.
Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has joined the Nova group of metros. BMRCL constructs and operates the Namma Metro (which means ‘Our Metro’) which serves Bangalore, the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state and the third most populous city in the country.
The first part of the system opened in 2011, and Phase 1 was completed in 2017. The system now features 42.3km that is 80% elevated and 20% underground on two lines: Purple (east-west) and Green (north-south). There are 40 stations and an estimated approximately 130m annual passenger journeys. Phase 2 is now under construction, with sections expected to open between now and 2023 that extend both existing lines and add three new lines (with an additional 93km).
The Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College London has a new name! In 2019, we became the Transport Strategy Centre (TSC) recognising the broad reach of our team’s work. The TSC works across public transport modes – metros, railways, buses and light rail, as well as airports.
For more information about the TSC and our work, please see our main website here.
Tokyo Metro has joined the CoMET group of metros. Their system is the oldest in Asia, dating to 1927 with the opening of the Ginza Line. Privatised in 2004, Tokyo Metro is owned by the national and metropolitan governments. The Tokyo Metro network is 195.1km with 179 stations on 9 lines and is renowned for its punctuality. Annual passenger journeys are estimated at more than 2.2 billion, making Tokyo Metro among the densest metros in the world.
Tokyo Metro’s first two lines, the 1927 Ginza Line and 1954 Marunouchi Line, operate on standard gauge track with third rail power and are independent. The rest of the network operates on narrow gauge (1067mm) like the mainline railway network in Japan, with overhead power and operate through services connecting to various suburban railways. We look forward to working with Tokyo Metro on benchmarking going forward.
Sydney Metro has joined the Nova group of metros. It is a new fully automated (GoA4) metro system being built in Sydney, Australia’s largest city. The first section, known as Sydney Metro Northwest, opened in May 2019 with a 4-minute peak headway. The initial segment features 23km and 8 stations newly built and the existing 13km, 5-station Epping to Chatswood rail link (which opened in 2009 and was operated by Sydney Trains until closing in September 2018 for metro conversion).
Currently passengers interchange onto Sydney Trains services at Epping and Chatswood to continue to central Sydney, but Sydney Metro City & Southwest is currently under construction and will extend the line a total of 31km, including a new tunnel under Sydney Harbour and the Central Business District and the takeover of another existing Sydney Trains line in the southwest area, scheduled for 2024.
Nova celebrated its 20th birthday at the Phase 20 Annual Meeting, held in London and hosted by the Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College London. 22 members of the Community of Metros (17 Nova members and 5 CoMET members) attended the Annual Meeting and Metro Leader Day, held on 8th – 11th May 2018. Representatives from new members at Bay Area Rapid Transit (San Francisco) and the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai were warmly welcomed for their first meeting.
The meeting focused on Phase 20 benchmarking results, including Key Performance Indicators, case studies on Escalator Management and Security on Metros, as well as wider studies from the Community of Metros on Enhancing Platform Safety Without Platform Doors and Using Data to Improve Maintenance. Members presented an update on their metro’s current activities and plans, giving insight into shared challenges and opportunities. The meeting also included the annual Nova Metro Leader Day, focused on strategic-level discussions on topics of interest, such as managing ageing assets and metro automation. The Group also celebrated Nova’s 20th birthday throughout the week.
As well as meeting activities, members visited London Underground facilities across two technical visits. These visits included a guided tour of Tottenham Court Road station, which has undergone significant works in preparation for the opening of the Elizabeth Line, and as part of an area-wide regeneration plan. Members also rode the new Elizabeth Line rolling stock from Liverpool Street to Stratford, where they heard more detail on the development of the line as it prepares to open. Members also visited Transport for London’s operational control centres where the Underground and surface transport networks are monitored and optimised.
The North American Sub-Group of the Community of Metros has officially been formed and its inaugural meeting held in Washington DC. The North American Sub-Group brings together metro operators in North America to collaborate on benchmarking and focus on challenges particularly affecting operators in the region. The group consists of existing Community of Metros members New York City Transit, Société de Transport de Montréal, Toronto Transit Commission and Vancouver SkyTrain, as well as new members of the community, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and Bay Area Rapid Transit (San Francisco).
During this meeting, members heard benchmarking analysis with a focus on North America, and case studies of particular relevance including Measuring and Improving Customer Satisfaction and Best Practices in Driver Training. Members also participated in structured discussions on key topics of interest for North American metro operators, such as managing reliability, ridership trends and using performance data.
Members used WMATA’s network extensively, learning about station operational procedures and plans for future station works. The group also visited WMATA’s Greenbelt Yard facility to learn about its rolling stock replacement programme, including the logistics of the depot and customer-focused design elements of the trains. Its new 7000-series cars total 45% of its fleet and is reducing fleet-related delays.
Richard Anderson, Professor Dan Graham, Dr. Roger Allport and Priya Wells attended the 2017 OECD International Transport Forum to bring the ongoing “Operator’s Story” research project to industry experts and policymakers from around the world. The RTSC team were joined by Dominic Patella, Senior Transportation Specialist at the World Bank, and an expert panel made up of Dr Jacob Kam of Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway, Ismael Uruen Pueyo of Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona and Professor Tony Ridley of Imperial College London.
“The Operator’s Story” is an applied research project aiming to capture and document what makes metros successful from the Operator’s point of view, a perspective that has been little explored. 10 members of the Community of Metros participated in in-depth case studies for the research, providing insight into their governance structures, operational opportunities and constraints, and relationships with stakeholders. These findings have been combined with long-term metro benchmarking to present a set of initiatives that actively improve metro success, for application to existing and new metro systems alike.
Richard Anderson, Roger Allport and Dominic Patella presented the emerging findings of the research, focusing on the increasing trend towards urbanisation and the use of metro rail as a solution to promote sustainable growth. Roger Allport presented key insights from the in-depth case studies, focusing on strategic and governance practices. Using best practice insight from the Community of Metros, Richard Anderson presented some of the key operational principles of metro development.
Following the presentation, questions were fielded from the audience to the presenters and expert panel. The questions were diverse, covering the setup of metros to successfully transition between engineering, operations and management, managing service levels during constrained funding periods and recruiting expertise for metros.
“The Operator’s Story” team would like to thank the OECD International Transport Forum for hosting this first session into the research findings, as well as the members of the expert panel who provided valuable insight into how the research findings apply in real-world situations.
A report presenting “The Operator’s Story” Emerging Findings can be found here.
Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Imperial College London on the 21st October. As a result of a collaboration between the RTSC, Shanghai Metro, and the Data Science Institute (DSI) of Imperial, the Presidential visit included a presentation on the analysis of smartcard data for the Shanghai Metro network.
Our main research objective was to improve our understanding of demand patterns captured in smartcard data. We visualised passenger flows entering and exiting Shanghai metro stations using the extraordinary visualisation capabilities of the KPMG Data Observatory of DSI. The Data Observatory is the largest of its kind in Europe, featuring an enveloping circular wall of 64 monitors powered by 32 computers facilitating 313 degrees of surround vision.
In the second part of the presentation we visualised a simulation scenario for a hypothetical train service disruption. This allowed us to predict how temporary demand shocks would spread through other parts of the network. Studying disruption scenarios enables operators to prepare for unexpected events and improve the resilience of urban rail networks.
The Presidential visit proved to be an excellent opportunity to showcase the RTSC’s recently developed competences in big data analysis, and the potential of smart card data in cutting edge public transport research.