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.
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.
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.
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.
Nova members have identified a need to innovate to increase staff productivity levels, and asked RTSC to investigate how metros around the world have used multifunctional staff. A wide variety of multifunctional roles were identified, classified into six broad types as shown below.
The best multifunctional staff roles fill in what would otherwise be unproductive time, with productive activity. This is often accomplished by matching functions that need to be done at separate times of day or functions that can be slotted in between other activities in a single location, such as light maintenance within stations.
Multifunctional working also has an important role at increasing staff satisfaction. By combining tasks, staff have the opportunity to work in a more varied and interesting role. This can improve the attractiveness of the metro as an employer and improve staff motivation. For example, one metro recorded reduced absenteeism among their most multifunctional staff. Multifunctional roles can also create a career progression – especially for staff who are technically excellent but do not necessarily want to manage other people.
Shenzhen Metro has joined the Community of Metros as part of the Nova consortium. Shenzhen Metro (SZMC) operates Lines 1, 2, 3 and 5 in Shenzhen, which comprises 158km and 107 stations. Line 4 is operated separately by MTR, but is from a customer perspective part of the same metro system. The total system (including Line 4) is already carrying an estimated 600-700m annual passenger journeys.
The system first opened in 2004, and expanded dramatically by over 100km in 2011 (before Shenzhen hosted the 2011 Summer Universiade). The network has been stable since 2011, but there are several new lines under construction, with multiple new lines to open in 2016.
Shenzhen is a city of about 10 million in the south of Guangdong Province, adjacent to Hong Kong and less than 100 miles southeast of Guangzhou. Shenzhen Metro is a key part of what may be the most metro-connected megalopolis in the world – it directly links in two places to Hong Kong’s East Rail Line (the first time two Community of Metros members in different cities interchange!), and there are plans in the not-so-distant future to also connect Shenzhen Metro to the Dongguan Metro, which itself will connect to the Guangzhou Metro at its other end.
Shenzhen Metro is already working on plans to attend the next Nova meeting, which will be hosted by the Docklands Light Railway in London in September 2015.
In April 2015, members of the Nova group met in Barcelona for their annual meeting. The group were also joined by CoMET members, Metro de Madrid. The meeting provided an opportunity for members to hear the results of this year’s research. In addition, each member gave a brief update on the current issues in their metro and any changes over the last six months, with opportunity to discuss and ask the advice of peers on relevant topics.
The hosts, Barcelona TMB arranged fascinating technical visits. The group were honoured to visit the security canine facility and watch a demonstration of the security dogs working. There was also an opportunity to see ‘behind the scenes’ of the new automated line 9. This included an opportunity to meet and ask questions to the multifunctional staff who work on that automated line.
For most metros, a steadily growing passenger demand and revenue is important for future sustainability. This 2014 Nova case study captured good practice initiatives that members have implemented in their metros to increase the revenue they receive. This study also looked at how the regulatory and political environment affects a metro’s ability to implement these strategies and what methods were being used to measure and forecast demand.
Several of the factors that influence metro demand and revenue are to some extent within a metro’s influence, such as the quality of service, the provision of amenities within stations, and price. However, external factors tend to have the largest impact on demand and there is little metros can do to influence these, at least in the short to medium term.
Members stated that fares policy, service frequency and capacity, infrastructure enhancements, and integration with other transport had the greatest impact on their demand and revenue. Yet, they also appear to be the factors that metro operators have the least control over. We argue that in the longer term, these factors can be strongly influenced by metros but clear and proactive engagement with all city actors such as the Transport Authority or Government is required.
Good practice metros undertake a detailed analysis of their market segments to understand both existing and potential customers. Separating out different customer segments and journey stages may enable operators to exploit previously un-tapped or poorly captured markets. Metro operators should conduct proper advance business case analysis to understand the overall expected revenue impacts and associated costs of proposed demand growth initiatives. Even if forecasting or modelling demand and revenue is done by the transport authority, metros can always benefit from having their own models. This enables metros to make a stronger case to the transport authority about the effects of a particular action.
The most effective strategies implemented by metros included:
Bus feeder and bus integration systems which complement metro services and improve access to the metro;
Short extensions, infill stations and station upgrades that provide strategic opportunities to improve access to new markets,
Increasing off-peak service provision (evening, weekend and inter-peak) at low marginal cost to open the metro up to new or underutilised markets;
Targeted fares products to encourage off-peak travel and fill underutilised capacity; and
Integrated ticketing platforms and joint promotion that attracts alternative markets.
In September 2014, members of the Nova metro benchmarking group met in Delhi for their yearly management meeting, hosted by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. This was the first meeting for new members Oslo Sporveien, who presented an extended introduction to their metro. Excitingly, the meeting was also attended by the metros of Bangalore and Chennai, who were invited to attend as observers with a view to joining a new benchmarking group for new and rapidly-growing metros.
Meeting attendees agreed the work programme for the next year, as well as hearing reports on the previous year’s research including key performance indicator benchmarking, and the international metro customer satisfaction survey. In addition, attendees visited the metro and its operational centres to learn more about Delhi Metro’s operations in detail. The visit to the training school and simulator building was a particular highlight – here Delhi Metro is training staff not only for their own rapid expansion, but also for other new metros throughout India.
As a result of its rapid growth, Delhi Metro will be moving in 2015 to the CoMET benchmarking group for the world’s largest metros. This was therefore a valuable opportunity for Nova members to see Delhi’s metro in action. RTSC and the members of Nova thank Delhi DMRC for their efforts in organising an interesting and productive meeting.
The Nova group of metros is pleased to welcome Sporveien as its newest member. A company 100% owned by the city of Oslo, Sporveien operates the metro (T-Banen) as well as trams and buses in the city.
With 115 three-car rolling stock units operated singly or in pairs across its 86km of track and 97 stations, Oslo Metro transported 85million passengers in 2013. 410 maintenance employees keep the metro and the tram in good condition, resulting in 99.8% regularity, and customer satisfaction of 96.0%.
With a vision to “make public transportation a natural first choice,” Sporveien will benefit from the collective expertise of the Community of Metros, and the Nova group in particular, to research ideas and good practices to realise this vision. In particular, Sporveien’s strategic aim to “at all times deliver the correct degree of quality to our products and services” will benefit from insight via the Key Performance Indicator system to identify appropriate levels of performance to achieve this goal.
With collaboration named as a key value in Sporveien’s roadmap towards future success, it is certain that both Sporveien and the Community of Metros will benefit from this new partnership.