InnoTrans 2018: An Interview with Mr Jayaram Naidu

On a sunny, yet chilly afternoon at Messe Berlin in Germany, where the biennial InnoTrans 2018, which occupies 41 halls, is held, we headed over to Bombardier Transportation’s (BT) booth, where we had a scheduled interview with their Vice President, Head of South East Asia Mr Jayaram Naidu.

The entrance of Messe Berlin in Berlin, Germany.

As we arrived at the booth, fifteen minutes ahead of the scheduled time, we mingled around with the crowd, which had gathered for the lunch and drinks, and waited for Mr Naidu to arrive.

Bombardier’s booth at the InnoTrans 2018.

Mr Naidu, dressed in a charcoal suit and a white-dotted black tie, spotted us amidst the crowd and gave us a warm greeting. He was as eager as we are for the interview and immediately after our meeting room is freed, invited us in and gave us time to set up our equipment. As we sprung into action to set up the recording devices, Mr Naidu instructed the booth’s waitress to prepare light snacks and drinks in the meantime and left the room.

Five minutes later, a smiling Mr Naidu reappeared, all set to be on the receiving end of our questions. And here is how the interview went:

Q: What are your thoughts about BT winning the contract to provide 396 MOVIA metro cars for the North South & East West Line (NSEWL), beating incumbent Kawasaki which has a strong presence in Singapore?

“To us, it demonstrates Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore’s confidence in a long-term partnership with Bombardier Transportation, being one of the rail technology leader in terms of mobility solutions and to be part of the ecosystem in Singapore,” Mr. Naidu said.

“With each new environment, climate and culture, we evolve and adapt to provide world-class systems – making us a successful global supplier for greenfield and brownfield projects. Our aim is to combine technology and performance with empathy, to serve as a trusted and strong local partner, helping to solve the mobility needs of Singapore, as well as all over the world.”

Artist’s impression of the R151 trains. (Photo: Bombardier)

Q: How will BT assure SMRT Corp to take up the options for long-term technical support under a 30-year contract?

“Our main focus is to be in the Singapore ecosystem working hand in hand with the City State to ensure an efficient and sustainable rail operation, keeping passengers on the move. Our aim is to help minimize operation cost over an extended asset lifetime, while ensuring the highest level of passenger safety and comfort.” said Mr. Naidu.

“It is to provide system solutions and services to optimize performance and reliability to ensuring passengers arrive safely, punctually and comfortably at their destination. Given our global experience, we are ready to continue meeting Singapore’s mobility needs with our high-performance vehicles, signalling systems and fleet management support.”

Q: Comparing with the Downtown Line (DTL) MOVIA metro cars, what are the new unique or enhanced features of the NSEWL metro car’s interior and/or undercarriage that BT will propose for the LTA to adopt?

Mr. Naidu explained that the main focus was to “incorporate a more inclusive public transportation system”. “What do we mean by that? Bombardier and LTA aim to build a more spacious interior cabin to accommodate wheelchairs, strollers and personal mobility devices (PMDs). The new trains will also have tip-up seats which can be folded up during peak hours,” he explained.

Making reference to Singapore’s Land Transport Master Plan 2030 (LTMP2030)’s target of having at least 80% households to be within 8-10 minutes walking distance of a train station, Mr. Naidu emphasized the importance to move towards Singapore’s Smart Nation vision for better living, stronger communities and more economic opportunities – by harnessing data, networks, info-communication technologies to achieve a sustainable Singapore.

Bombardier C951 trains used on the Downtown Line. (Top photo: Bombardier)

Q: Can you share with us some of the features onboard the new INNOVIA APM 300 for the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT), such as the interior and the condition monitoring capabilities?

“BOMBARDIER INNOVIA APM 300 vehicles feature spacious and modern interiors which are in line with LTA’s aim to create a more inclusive public transportation system. Large windows create bright, comfortable interior and excellent visibility for passengers.”

Apart from new features, there are technological advancements too, as Mr. Naidu explained further, “we are trying to bring in some of our advanced technology into the system (such as) introducing the Condition Based Monitoring System into the people mover.”

Bombardier INNOVIA trains used on the Bukit Panjang LRT.

Mr. Naidu cited Minister Khaw Boon Wan’s parliamentary statement where the new target set for the BPLRT is to achieve 100,000 train-kilometers per year (MKBF) before a delay of >5mins occur. Explaining further, he said that, “that’s the direction we are moving towards and the only way to do that is to introduce value-added real-time system condition monitoring that we can incorporate to diagnose with pro-active identification of problems, converting data into meaningful information from the trains as well as from the subsystems including the waysides for better maintenance planning, as well as improving investigation times to maximize fleet availability.”

Q: With new orders for the DTL and NSEWL, making it one of the largest MOVIA metro vehicles fleet in the world, will BT be investing more and increasing its staff presence in the Singaporean market?

“If you look at Bombardier’s 20-year history in Singapore, we have deepened our investment in the local ecosystem,” said Mr. Naidu. Citing Singapore’s goal of achieving 15,000 rail engineers by 2030, he went on to say that, “We are investing and committed in developing local talent through our Singapore graduate programs, as well as internship programs. We are also partnering with several high-tech companies in Singapore, investing in the local ecosystem because our intent is to be a long-term systems provider, continually contributing to improve productivity and ultimately to raising rail industry performance locally, as well as globally.”

Q: Over the past 20 years, BT had provided several different rolling stocks of INNOVIA and MOVIA products for the BPLRT and DTL, establishing a strong presence in Singapore. How will BT continue to position themselves in the competitive business environment?

Mr. Naidu paused, and said “Maybe I will just take a step back and say that, “Together We Move is Bombardier’s key driver and as a team, we never stop moving to keep people in motion in and between cities.”

“Bombardier is about creating better ways to move people across cities and countries and we want to share how our world class fleet performance can impact communities, economies and the environment. Basically, to move away from an era of being Capital Expenditure (CapEx) driven to a Life Cycle Cost (LCC) model.”

“We are positioning ourselves into the LCC model,” he explained, “and if we look at the two recent new contracts in Singapore, the Bukit Panjang LRT (BPLRT) Line and the R151 North-South and East-West (NSEWL) MRT Line, the BPLRT has a maintenance agreement where we provide value-added knowledge from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Working with the authority and the operators, we provide the necessary information, guidance, knowledge and share with them how we can further improve the reliability of the system.”

Further elaborating, Mr. Naidu said, “punctuality and performance of the vehicle as well as passengers’ safety and comfort are of utmost importance because at the end of the day, the main point of a public transport system is to improve the quality of life for residents by better connecting them. The only way we are going to do it is to make sure that the system is available, safe, punctual and reliable.”

With that, the interview came to an end. Mr. Naidu offered us a warm handshake, thanking us for coming all the way to Germany to attend the tradeshow.

During the trip to Berlin, Germany, we had the chance to speak with key personnel of Bombardier, such as Mr Laurent Troger (President, Bombardier Transportation), Mr Jayaram Naidu (Vice President, South East Asia) (pictured below, centre) and Mr Paul Brown (Managing Director, Australia).

From left to right: Liang Ge Song, Mr Jayaram Naidu, Ong You Yuan

Bombardier has a strong presence in Singapore for over two decades, since 1996, and with the recent award of contracts for assets renewal on the BPLRT and NSEWL, Bombardier has once again proven themselves as one of the world’s best transportation company and with a strong commitment to Singapore.

The team at SGTrains would like to express our sincerest gratitude to Bombardier Transportation and its staff involved for the amazing experience. We wish Bombardier all the best with the upcoming projects in Singapore and we shall continue to update Singaporeans on various updates regarding the rail projects.

The trip to Germany and its related costs were sponsored by Bombardier Transportation.

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Liang Ge Song

21 years old Singapore with a keen interest in Singapore's public transportation. Been an avid train enthusiast since 2011 at the age of 12. Currently the Vice President of Operations at SGTrains.