Research: Planning for the Life Cycles of Metro Infrastructure

The study looked at the analysis, tools and models that CoMET and Nova metros use in support of planning for the life cycle of infrastructure assets of track, civil infrastructure and power assets. The impact of funding on the ability of metros to plan for the whole life of the infrastructure assets was explored together with the maturity of metros’ strategies and plans for these assets.

Maturity in strategies for infrastructure asset management is categorised as patch and mend strategies, state of good repair strategies, strategies based on reliability, cost and risk, and optimisation strategies. On the basis of all the elements (i.e. funding predictability, strategies and plans developed and implemented, analysis undertaken for maintenance and investment and sophistication of tools or models in support of decisions), the study developed a maturity map for CoMET and Nova metros.

Most mature metros in planning for the life cycle of infrastructure assets show a holistic strategy, integrating maintenance and investment and using optimisation techniques. This strategy is generally established for the long term with shorter term plans developed at a level below the asset class.

Research: Safety Culture

Safety still remains a challenge despite sizeable investments in making the equipment and hardware safer for metros. The most significant barrier to enabling a continuous improvement in safety is to understand and alter the safety culture of the organisation. A model for the improvement of an organisation’s safety culture was developed through the study.

A reasonable level of safety may be achieved through adherence to external regulations, robust processes, good training schemes and an organisational structure which devotes senior management attention safety, defining an organisation ‘practicing safety’. However, a culture which constantly prioritises safety and is aware of the implications of every action it takes is hard to build and maintain.

To fully become an organisation that is always ‘thinking safety’, three key linked behaviours are required, including (1) excellent measuring and monitoring of safety performance, which, in turn, enables (2) the transparent enforcement of standards in a fashion which balances safety and individual accountability, feeding into (3) a robust procedure to investigate and learn from errors.

Continual effort is required to improve in all areas of the safety culture model. The creation of trust is key to enabling a good safety culture, alongside a balance between enforcement of standards and practices and accountability of actions.

Research: Best Practices in Operating Very High Frequency Metro Services

Increasing service frequency is identified as the primary shorter-term strategy to increase capacity. Maximising frequency on existing lines makes the best use of the expensive metro infrastructure. This study identified best practices in operating very high frequency metro services exploring the means and methods used to achieve high frequency service.

Several CoMET and Nova metros operate one or more very high frequency line (30 trains per hour or more) and many have plans to increase service frequencies. Although almost all metros reported a desire to operate higher frequencies, a wide range of constraints impedes them. Constraints were grouped into five categories with corresponding best practice shown below:

Examples of how metros have dealt with these constraints include:

  • Signalling and Train Control: adopting moving block signalling and Automatic Train Operation.
  • Station and Train Crowding: preventing door re-opening and restrict overcrowding (for example by holding passengers in interchange corridors) to optimise throughput.
  • Terminal Turnaround: enabling multiple trains to turn around simultaneously and clear trains of passengers faster.
  • Service Complexity: introducing separate tracks at intermediate terminals so that terminating trains do not block the following through trains.
  • Fleet: improving availability, compensating through different service patterns.

Research: Management of Electronics Maintenance

Maintaining the electronics that support rolling stock fleets entails both repairing technology and managing obsolescence issues.  Metros’ strategy choices for electronics maintenance and repair include using in-house resources, outsourced, or a mix of both approaches. The study provided an overview of the key drivers and emerging issues related to electronics maintenance strategy. A balanced analysis considering costs of establishing and maintaining in-house staff and facilities, as well as the danger of over-reliance on outsourcing and losing the ability to remain an ‘Intelligent Customer’ should be taken into account.

A key role played by in-house teams is in the acquisition of spare parts, as obsolescence or supplier choices and finances lead to shrinking stock. Several approaches were discovered, from contractual agreements to a continuity of supply of spares, the use of alternative components and reverse engineering of parts.

As the lifecycles of electronics components are generally considerably shorter than the expected life of a train and its key subsystems, spares and supply management are essential to support the continued availability of electronics components. Regardless of the approach taken to ensuring sufficient supply of spares, developing strong relationships with key suppliers as well as leverage to maintain a strategic position appear to be a major success factor in managing electronics maintenance.

CoMET and Nova News: CoMET 2015 Annual Meeting in Madrid

In November 2015, members of the Community of Metros came together for the CoMET 2015 Annual Meeting in Madrid, hosted by Metro de Madrid. The meeting was attended by representatives from 21 metro systems across the world, the most ever for a CoMET meeting. The meeting was opened by members of the Metro de Madrid executive committee as well as officials from the Madrid Region government.

Representatives from 21 world metro systems at the CoMET 2015 Annual Meeting in Madrid
Representatives from 21 world metro systems at the CoMET 2015 Annual Meeting in Madrid

Throughout the week, attendees toured Metro de Madrid facilities, including the intermodal stations at Moncloa and Vodafone Sol and the Centre for Operational Maintenance and Monitoring of Installations and Telecommunications (COMMIT). During meeting sessions each metro shared their latest updates, including information about strategies to improve efficiency and productivity. The Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) from Imperial College London also presented the results of recent benchmarking research and metro representatives discussed them. The recent benchmarking studies on the agenda were on Best Practices in Operating Very High Frequency Metro Services, the Management of Electronics Maintenance, Multi-Functional Staff, and Customer-Focused Train Design.

Plaza de España Station on Line 3 in Madrid.
Plaza de Espana Station on Line 3 in Madrid

The meeting also included the 6th annual CoMET CEO/COO Day, where senior managers from the metros gathered to discuss Key Performance Indicators as well as topics of key strategic importance, such as managing reinvestment and using multi-functional staff. Finally, after the main meeting there was the first ever CoMET and Nova European Regional Meeting, with representatives from eight European metro systems discussing topics of mutual interest, joined also by the CoMET metros of North America.

Research: Understanding and Using Service Performance Data

Service performance measurements are crucial for understanding how metro services are running, so obtaining and leveraging accurate data in the form of useful metrics is key to improving performance. This research project aimed to understand what metrics metros are using to manage their service performance, including their precise definitions, and what methods they use to obtain the required data.

Five categories of service performance measurements help to answer the most important management questions about service performance. A comprehensive system of KPIs needs to comprise a balanced set of service performance measurements covering all five categories.

What do metro managers need to know?
What do metro managers need to know?

There is a need to measure both the actual delay to train service and the impacts of train delays on customers. Too much emphasis on the measurement of train service production and train service performance can be at the expense of other elements of service quality and the actual customer experience. One achievable approach is to use headway-based measurements, which reflect the waiting time for customers on platforms. Another is to weight delay measurements by the number of customers on the train at the time.

There is a clear trend towards more customer-focused measures, which are more difficult to measure but better reflect the actual customer experience. This trend is being driven primarily by technology, such as modern signalling/train control systems and smartcards (i.e. tap-in / tap-out systems). These new data sources are making it easier for metros to collect the data required for more customer-focused metrics.

Trends in service performance data collection, management and analysis
Trends in service performance data collection, management and analysis

CoMET and Nova News: CoMET Annual Meeting in Beijing

In November 2014, members of the Community of Metros along with Asian members of Nova came together for the CoMET 2014 Annual Meeting in Beijing by the Beijing Subway. This meeting marked the 20th anniversary of CoMET, and was the largest meeting in CoMET’s history with attendees from 17 metros around the world. The meeting was opened by the Deputy Mayor of Beijing and the Permanent Secretary of the Chinese Ministry of Transport.

CoMET 2014 Annual Meeting Beijing Group Photo Small
Representatives from 17 world metros at the CoMET 2014 Annual Meeting in Beijing.

Throughout the week, attendees got to tour Beijing Subway’s facilities and observe operations, including visits to the Beijing Subway Rolling Stock Equipment Company, the Songjiazhuan Station (interchange for Lines 5 and 10 and the Yizhuang Line), the Operations Control Centre, and a ride on Line 10, which at 57km is the world’s longest metro loop line (and completely underground).

2014 Beijing Subway Map SMALL
Following several years of massive growth, the Beijing Subway is now one of the largest in the world.

During meeting sessions each metro shared their latest updates, including information about recent major incidents. Imperial College London also presented the results of recent research on Station Management and Mobile Technology and Understanding and Using Service Performance Data as well as the results of the first ever international metro customer satisfaction survey that was conducted in 2014. The meeting also included the 5th annual CoMET CEO/COO Day, where presidents and directors from the metros gathered to discuss metro Key Performance Indicators as well as topics of key strategic and tactical importance.

After the main meeting there was a CoMET and Nova Asian Regional Meeting attended by 9 of the 10 Asian members of CoMET and Nova. Representatives from the metros of Kunming and Chongqing also attended as observers and potential members of the new third sub-group of CoMET for new and growing metros. The Regional Meeting focused on key topics for Asian metros, including cost recovery, rapid growth, and rescuing efficiency.

 

News Blog

This page is the news blog for CoMET and Nova, the world’s metro benchmarking groups. The blog will cover the news from the groups, including latest research, meetings and expert workshops, and news from member metros.