Finnish minister views drone use in rail tunnels

Finland's Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner (above) watched a live demonstration of the use of a drone to inspect rail infrastructure in the tunnel linking the upcoming Orchard and Orchard Boulevard stations of the Thomson-East Coast
Finland's Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner watched a live demonstration of the use of a drone to inspect rail infrastructure in the tunnel linking the upcoming Orchard and Orchard Boulevard stations of the Thomson-East Coast Line. According to an LTA spokesman, the use of drones has contributed to a safer and more cost-efficient work process.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH
Finland's Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner (above) watched a live demonstration of the use of a drone to inspect rail infrastructure in the tunnel linking the upcoming Orchard and Orchard Boulevard stations of the Thomson-East Coast
Finland's Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner (above) watched a live demonstration of the use of a drone to inspect rail infrastructure in the tunnel linking the upcoming Orchard and Orchard Boulevard stations of the Thomson-East Coast Line. According to an LTA spokesman, the use of drones has contributed to a safer and more cost-efficient work process.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

As part of a five-day visit to Singapore that began last Thursday, Finland's Transport and Communications Minister Anne Berner viewed one of the sites for the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) yesterday.

Together with Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, she visited an 800m tunnel connecting the upcoming Orchard and Orchard Boulevard stations on the TEL.

She also viewed a demonstration of how the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is testing the use of eight drones to "improve operational efficiency" at rail construction sites.

The drones are used to inspect construction work and check for defects at locations that are difficult to access, such as train tunnels. The job is traditionally done by a person using scaffolding.

"The use of drones has contributed to a safer and more cost-efficient work process, while reducing manpower and equipment requirements," said an LTA spokesman.

The LTA is currently conducting a year-long trial of the use of drones to monitor progress at 10 worksites for the TEL. In March, it issued a request for information on the use of drones and unmanned vehicles to inspect road and rail tunnels.

Ms Berner also viewed plans for the 43km line - which will be opened in stages between 2019 and 2024 - as well as the Rapid Transit System, which will provide a rail link between Johor Baru and Woodlands by 2024.

A Land Transport Authority project engineer pilots an aerial drone to inspect construction work in a section of the tunnel for the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line. Drones are used to inspect locations that are difficult to access and would otherwise
Drone offers clear tunnel vision: A Land Transport Authority project engineer pilots an aerial drone to inspect construction work in a section of the tunnel for the upcoming Thomson-East Coast Line. Drones are used to inspect locations that are difficult to access and would otherwise require workers on scaffolding. Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and his Finnish counterpart Anne Berner viewed the live demonstration yesterday.

Last Friday, it was announced that SMRT had won the contract to operate the TEL for nine years, with a bid of $1.7 billion.

The rail operator will also run the Rapid Transit System as part of a joint venture with Prasarana Malaysia, whose subsidiary runs an MRT line through the Klang Valley.

Zhaki Abdullah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Finnish minister views drone use in rail tunnels'. Print Edition | Subscribe