In November 2016 members of the Community of Metros came together for the CoMET 2016 Annual Meeting in Singapore, hosted by Singapore SMRT. The meeting was attended by representatives from 18 metros – all 16 CoMET members and two Nova members from the Southeast Asia region.
Throughout the week, attendees toured SMRT facilities, including the Kim Chuan Depot, which is the world’s largest underground depot and home to the fully automated Circle Line. During meeting sessions each metro shared their latest updates, including specific recent initiatives aiming to improve customer satisfaction or service quality.
The Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) from Imperial College London presented the results of recent benchmarking research. The latest key performance indicator results were focused on meeting host Singapore SMRT and also included new items looking in more detail at the benchmarking of reliability and asset performance. Other recent benchmarking research that was presented and discussed included the 2016 results of the international metro customer satisfaction survey and the updated safety performance indicators. The recent benchmarking studies on the agenda were on Driver Training and Cybersecurity.
The meeting concluded with the 7th annual CoMET CEO/COO Day, where senior managers from the metros gathered to discuss metro performance and managing network expansion, addressing cybersecurity risks, and carrying out asset renewals.
In September 2016 members of the Nova metro benchmarking group met in Lisbon, hosted by Metropolitano de Lisboa. The extended four-day meeting was attended by representatives from 17 metros. This was the first meeting for the new member Vancouver SkyTrain, who presented an extended introduction to their metro. Berlin BVG metro was also invited as a European CoMET member and presented an extended update of their metro. All other Nova members also had the opportunity to share their latest updates and challenges.
During the meeting benchmarking research results from the past year were presented and discussed. This included the latest key performance indicator results, updates on recent CoMET and Nova research on fares, results of the 2016 international metro customer satisfaction survey, and results of several benchmarking studies. The recent studies on the agenda were Management of Electronic Maintenance, Planning for the Life Cycles of Metro Infrastructure Assets, Safety Culture, and Best Practices in Operating Very High Frequency Metro Services. Meeting attendees also discussed and agreed the work programme for the next year.
In addition, attendees used the metro to travel between the hotel near Saldanha and the meeting venue at Alto dos Moinhos station. The group also visited the Pontinha Depot and Workshop as well as the metro’s Operation Control Centre (OCC). As part of the meeting’s social activities attendees also got to travel on a famous historic tram and visit the Carris Museum.
Vancouver SkyTrain has joined the Community of Metros as part of the Nova consortium as of September 2016. SkyTrain is the oldest and one of the longest fully-automated driverless metro systems in the world. Vancouver is the largest city in western Canada and the centre of the Lower Mainland region in the province of British Columbia, which comprises a total of 2.6 million inhabitants.
The SkyTrain network consists of three medium-capacity metro lines totalling 79km with 53 stations. The Expo and Millennium Lines are directly operated by member BCRTC (the British Columbia Rapid Transit Company, a subsidiary of regional transport authority TransLink), while the Canada Line is operated by private-sector contractor ProTrans BC through a PPP arrangement. The total system transports nearly 120m annual boardings as part of a integrated multimodal public transport network that include a large bus network, the West Coast Express commuter rail line, and the SeaBus ferry service.
The system first opened in 1985 for the World Exposition (Expo86) with the Expo Line from downtown Vancouver to New Westminster. The line was expanded in the late 1980s and early 1990s across the Fraser River to Surrey. The Millennium Line was the second line opened in 2002, forming a loop with the Expo Line. The 19km, 16-station Canada Line was built in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics using a PPP arrangement. It opened in 2009 and links the city centre with the airport and major satellite city (Richmond) along what had been one of the city’s busiest bus corridors.
At the start of December 2016 the 11km Evergreen Extension to the Millennium Line will open in the northeast part of the Vancouver area. In advance of this opening in October 2016 Expo and Millennium Line services will be reconfigured, reducing the overlapping section to downtown Vancouver.
The SkyTrain network is fully accessible, with step-free access to all stations and trains. The Expo and Millennium Lines use Bombardier Advanced Rapid Transit technology, which uses linear induction motors and delivers fast and very frequent service with relatively smaller, lower-capacity trains. The same technology is also used by Nova member Kuala Lumpur RapidKL on the Kelana Jaya Line. The Canada Line uses conventional AC motor technology with larger cars operating two-car trains.
Future plans for the SkyTrain network include adding capacity with additional rolling stock and potential extensions as well as managing ageing infrastructure that is now more than 30 years old. One such extension project is the Millennium Line Broadway Extension, which would add 6km and 6 stations underground and link the Millennium Line to the Canada Line along what is currently one of the busiest bus corridors in North America.
In June 2016 the Community of Metros held an expert workshop on safety culture. The workshop was hosted by Nexus (owner of the Tyne and Wear Metro system) and held jointly with sister benchmarking group ISBeRG, the International Suburban Rail Benchmarking Group. Safety experts from 17 organisations – 5 CoMET metros, 7 Nova metros, and 5 ISBeRG railways – attended.
The workshop was held at a unique venue – the Stadium of Light, home to Sunderland A.F.C. and near the metro station of the same name and was recorded in the local press. The workshop was sponsored by the Nova group in conjunction with its 2016 benchmarking research study on Improving Safety Culture and followed a similar ISBeRG study in 2014. Both studies aimed to better understand safety culture and identify how metros and railways have established and improved safety culture.
Over the course of the two-day workshop experts shared experiences, exchanged good practices, and discussed the results of the benchmarking studies. There were also focus sessions on three key topics: responding to and recovering from major incidents, taking a ‘brain-based approach’ to safety, and considering the safety culture of passengers. Finally, the workshop also included two external perspectives: the regulatory view of Safety Culture from the UK Office of Rail and Road (ORR) and the trade union view of safety culture from the UK’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).
In March 2016 members of the Community of Metros came together for the CoMET 2016 Management Meeting in Hong Kong, hosted by Hong Kong MTR. The meeting was attended by representatives from 13 metro systems across the world. Members were welcomed by MTR CEO Lincoln Leung as the host of the meeting.
Throughout the week, attendees toured Hong Kong MTR’s facilities, including the new Wong Chuk Hang Depot for the new fully automated South Island Line Depot opening in late 2016 and the new HKU Station on the western extension of the Island Line, which opened at the end of 2014. During meeting sessions each metro shared their latest updates, including information about current challenges. Meeting attendees also discussed and selected benchmarking research topics for the coming year.
The Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) from Imperial College London also presented updates and results of recent benchmarking research. This included key performance indicator benchmarking, recent research on fares and regulation, and results of a recent study entitled ‘Practical Interventions to Improve Trains Service Reliability’.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
RTSC was honoured in October 2015 to host a study visit from a delegation of senior officials responsible for metro and urban transport development in India. Participating officials represented the Ministry of Urban Development, the Department of Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, Nagpur Metro Rail Corporation Ltd., and the World Bank.
The visit incorporated a benchmarking workshop, looking at how benchmarking could benefit the new and rapidly-developing metros of India. The visit also included seminars disseminating RTSC’s 20 years of expertise on topics including metro financial sustainability, innovative funding and financing mechanisms, and best practice in regulation of metro operations. In addition, the delegates had the opportunity to see visualisations of RTSC analysis of passenger movements in the Shanghai Metro at Imperial College’s newly-opened Data Science Institute.
The delegation visited Manchester Metrolink, London Underground, and Crossrail – and had the opportunity to discuss these different transport systems and projects in detail with current and former staff, learning from the operator’s experience of what works well in setting up successful urban rail operations.
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?
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