Steven has also been responsible for the implementation of design and reliability improvement modification on rolling stock and management of plant equipment projects for new rolling stock depots.
While I had been involved in a number of new rolling stock procurement projects in Hong Kong, the one that I most enjoyed is in fact not the new rolling stock project but the modification projects on existing light rail vehicles.
Hong Kong’s metro system is the backbone of the transport system. Owner/operators and, importantly, commuters have very high service and reliability expectations for the system.
The existing rolling stock on this project was over 20 years old and was failing to meet the MTRs premium reliability expectations. I was responsible for designing and implementing a series of modifications in order to boost up the reliability performance and meet the demands and standards for all stakeholders involved.
It was a very rewarding experience to investigate the problem to find a great solution. More rewarding has been the ongoing end result of seeing a high performance and very reliable light rail system servicing the people of Hong Kong.
For technical problems there is usually a solution that can be made. Managing stakeholders is often not such a straightforward process.
In my experience of procuring new rolling stock for clients, my stakeholders have usually had very high expectations and specific requirements. To manage this, early engagement and communication with stakeholders is very important to the success of a project.
Inevitably, some clients will have requirements that are simply not feasible. You need to be able to explain why you’re saying no with details. Is it a technical issue or perhaps a cost and efficiency problem?
While it’s easier to say yes, it is our responsibility, as an engineer, to investigate and present the best solution to our clients; whether it be the solution they proposed or not. Provide them the knowledge to make informed, considered decisions. Incorporate their requirements, where possible.
It is far simpler to explain to a client why their proposed requirements or expectations might not be best for their business operations when they are educated in the technical aspects of a project, especially if you’re saying no!
While it’s challenging, I do enjoy the ongoing learning process of stakeholder engagement and management.
Automation is definitely the next stage of future rolling stock/urban rail development. As automation technology continues to mature, we will see advances in automation including driverless rolling stock.
The advantage being reduced human error attributed to manual driving resulting in improved system efficiency and better safety.
Advances in how we incorporate and utilise wireless technology is also very exciting. From fare collection to trip planning, I think that trends and development in this space will focus on the passenger sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the ride.