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Smart, efficient, digital public transport for HK rails

A crucial aspect of more intelligent city living is public transport. This means making sure residents can navigate their daily lives efficiently, reliably, and sustainably.

Hong Kong’s railway services, operated by MTR Corporation Ltd, are the backbone of the city’s transport. Public transit is the most used mode of transport: 90% of citizens use public transport in their daily lives. Train travel is the most efficient way of moving large amounts of people through the compact city, and MTR Corporation has made social and environmental friendliness a priority.

Through its ongoing digital transformation, the aim is to enhance the reliability, efficiency and integration of their services, not only in Hong Kong but in its other global cities of operation.

The only way to push beyond current high performance is through better digital technology. One aspect is discovering how best to predict failure. This predictive maintenance relies on image and data analytics supported by artificial intelligence and helps in the regular inspection of equipment and the detection of problems early on and consistently.

AI is also used to assist with planned construction and maintenance on the railways. By using AI to optimise planning, it is possible to maximise the usage of the line when it is not in service to minimise the disruption when unavoidable planned construction or system upgrades are necessary, and ensure that ongoing works do not disrupt the functional rail lines.

AI-enhanced driving is a tool which goes together with more reliable operations. MTR Corporation’s trains already have an automatic operation, but sometimes the fail-safe principle will slow operations. By introducing artificial intelligence into the driving of trains, MTR Corporation will be able to mitigate this risk when every second count in train operations.

At the heart of these applications of technology is the drive to improve the customer experience. Advanced data analytics are being used to predict customer movements and demands to better plan its service – in due course, the same technology will be used even to respond in real-time to meet customer demand.

Furthermore, MTR Corporation is providing real-time service information to their customers, such as when the next train is due to arrive and plans to expand its offerings to include how crowded trains will be and which carriages have space available.

Reliability and maximum convenience are two of the core values of Mobility as a Service (MaaS), an industry-wide initiative which aims to integrate various modes of transport into a single mobility service, accessible on demand.

By investing its assets into the concept of MaaS, the corporation is subscribing to the cohesive concept of a door-to-door transport system, aiming to provide a “total solution” to its customers’ transport needs.

In practice, this would mean that when customers need to use a variety of modes of transport the corporation can have a hand in arranging every aspect of this service to make it as consistent as possible. Its analysts will gain access to enhanced user and demand data, leading to new opportunities to serve unmet demand.

MTR Corporation actively encourages the use of public transport by making the process streamlined, efficient and high-functioning: an essential stance not only as the world’s cities become more populated, but also as a defence against unsustainable, environmentally hazardous travel habits.

Using electric trains and energy-saving schemes, reducing waste and employing data analytics to push efficiency to a new level, MTR Corporation fulfils its mission to “Keep Cities Moving” with a sustainable financial model, upgraded assets, and an intelligent approach to public transport.

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