West Rail 'nerve system' ready to roll out

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 August, 2007, 12:00am

A new fibre-optic 'nerve system' to be installed on the KCRC's West Rail will give engineers an instant and more accurate reading on train performance and efficiency.

The network, which will cost HK$30 million and use 400km of fibre-optic cable, will replace the copper network now in use.

'The new network will act like a nerve system and provide an accurate real-time check on the healthiness of trains,' the railway operator's general manager of rolling stock engineering, Tony Lee Kar-yun, said.

Dr Lee said fibre-optic technology was already used by many rail systems around the world in signalling systems, but the KCR was the first to use fibre-optic cables as motion detectors.

The KCRC's East Rail pioneered the advance that allows engineers to collect data such as railcar occupancy, amount of vibration on trains and the stress that train wheels are exerting on tracks. With the unprecedented amount of data, engineers would be able to make adjustments to improve efficiency, Dr Lee said.

KCRC signal and communications manager Henry Cheung Nin-sang said the introduction of the new system should not cause any problems as the copper system would not be completely removed, but act as a back-up. If the fibre-optic system broke down, engineers would be able to bring the copper system back online at the flick of a switch.

Fibre-optic cable is also used in the Ma On Shan line's signalling system and will be used on the Kowloon Southern Link.

Engineers will finish installing fibre-optic cables along the West Rail's nine stations by November, and fibre-optic links between the stations and on trains will be finished by the middle of next year.