Railway safety project secures HK$40m in funding

Mirror Fung

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A research project on developing a platform of tools that will improve safety and dependability of high speed rail and metro systems led by a multi-disciplinary team at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has received more than HK$40 million in funding from Research Grants Council (RGC).

This five-year project, titled “Safety, Reliability, and Disruption Management of High Speed Rail and Metro Systems”, will focus on two areas: engineering systems; and people movement and capacity management.

“Our project seeks to establish Hong Kong as a centre of expertise in the safety, reliability and efficient management of complex network systems,” said Chair Professor Tsui Kwok-leung, Head of the Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management (SEEM) at CityU and the principal investigator of the project.

In the area of engineering systems, the research team will focus on safety and reliability for the rail tracks, wires and cables, and locomotive components. They will apply anomaly detection, failure discrimination, fault diagnostics and reliability degradation modeling to derive optimal maintenance schedules and the supply chain management of critical components and spare parts.

In the area of people movement and capacity management, the research team aims to create strategies that can forestall emergencies and respond to them when they occur. The focus will be on fire safety, avoiding overcrowding scenarios and providing optimal scheduling. For post-disruption scenarios, the focus will be on timetable adjustment, rolling stock and crew rescheduling.

It was anticipated that project results would be transportable to other complex network systems, Professor Tsui added.

The objectives of the research are threefold: first, to guarantee safety by implementing self-cognizant fault detection and monitoring systems; second, to enable dependable train operation, performance and service through advanced design of rail system operations; and third, to help administrators develop credible and sustainable transport strategies and enhance safety and reliability management.

Co-principal investigators from CityU are Chair Professor Alain Bensoussan, Chair Professor Nozer Darabsha Singpurwalla, Chair Professor Xie Min, and Dr Peter Tse Wai-tat, Associate Professor, in SEEM; Professor Lo Siu-ming and Professor Richard Yuen Kwok-kit, in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering; Dr Shou Biying and Dr Yu Yimin, both assistant professors, in the Department of Management Sciences (MS). There are also four local and overseas collaborating institutions.

“Our world-class team has expertise in remote sensing and monitoring, real-time probabilistic and statistical analysis of large, high-velocity data streams, and decision-theoretic techniques for economical operation of safe, reliable systems. We aim to create fundamental science and methodologies for rail safety, monitoring, control and management,” Professor Tsui concluded.


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