Rail engineers' training to be expanded: Khaw

Workers removing the old wood sleepers before replacing with concrete sleepers.
Workers removing the old wood sleepers before replacing with concrete sleepers.PHOTO: ST FILE

Stressing the need for rail engineers to keep up with the latest train technology, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday revealed that he will be ramping up training programmes.

And these include tertiary programmes for those studying to be engineers, and continuing education schemes for those already working in the sector.

In a blog post yesterday, Mr Khaw also mooted the idea of establishing a "National Rail Academy" with the Public Transport Tripartite Committee, to bring together all existing training programmes.

Such an academy "will signal the Government's concerted and determined approach to build up and deepen rail capabilities". It can build economies of scale in training facilities, allow apprentice schemes to be implemented and assure those who enter the academy of a job. "This will allow the Government to start recruitment early, well before new lines come along," he wrote.

The reliability of the MRT system came under a renewed spotlight after the massive train breakdown on July 7 that crippled the North-South and East-West lines for two hours.

"As rail technology continues to evolve and improve, our rail engineers have to keep up. Every new line and every new train must be better than their predecessors," said Mr Khaw. "This way, we keep our train systems and fleet up- to-date, more reliable, easier to maintain, safer and more cost-effective to operate."

The sector has made "a good start" in recent years, with the Land Transport Authority and transport operators providing sponsorships and internships, and working with higher learning institutes to redesign courses with a focus on transport engineering.

However, more still needs to be done to strengthen the virtuous circle in which teachers and students benefit from industry experience, and the industry benefits from well-taught graduates.

He added that the Government will work with the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University to include rail engineering among their final- year engineering modules. This way, the Government can tap a broader pool of engineering talent across all faculties, he wrote.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 22, 2015, with the headline 'Rail engineers' training to be expanded: Khaw'. Subscribe