Nov 01, 2019
A quick overview of the 2019 event in Manila.
Along with my colleague, John Aniceto, ASEAN Sales Director, I attended the 2nd Philippine Railway Modernization and Expansion Summit in Manila and was impressed to see the progress being made on public transport solutions in the Philippines which will improve the lives of so many people.
If you missed the event, read on for some of the highlights!
During a panel discussion on day one, a highlight was learning how the Philippines is enthusiastically embracing new technology, and how this rapidly developing nation is looking toward the future.
One example of this is how authorities in the Philippines have embraced the concept of trackless tram technology. The trackless tram – sometimes called virtual rail – uses optical guidance technology which follows twin lines painted on the road surface determining the tram’s route, speed and trajectory.
Because the existing road infrastructure has been built, it’s not easy to deploy track-based technology onto built roads – there just isn’t the space to install tracks without huge construction costs and the associated disruption to local businesses and residents. The cost of deployment per kilometre for trackless trams is far lower than tracked systems, and ongoing maintenance costs are lower too, since there are no in-road assets or infrastructure items to repair or maintain.
There’s also no need for turnouts, switching or interchanges. In the Philippines, flyovers will be built above existing roads to carry the trackless trams – ensuring less disruption to traffic during construction, and ultimately taking thousands of cars off the roads every day.
I was impressed at how forward-thinking it is for an emerging country like the Philippines to be implementing such technology.
It showed that they are thought-leaders when it comes to accepting new ideas. There could be a lesson here for countries like Australia. For new developments that don’t already have track infrastructure installed, trackless trams are a viable, cost-effective option. Instead of relying on construction-heavy rail-dependent systems, which require sub-surface and above ground infrastructure, we could be using existing road space much more effectively.
An engaging presentation delivered by Attorney Celeste D. Lauta, Assistance Corporate Secretary of the Philippine National Railways, outlined the true value of rail for the Philippine community. The average daily commute time by road in the Philippines is six hours – three hours in, three out. Traffic congestion is a major issue, impacting the Philippine GDP to the tune of USD 330 billion per year.
A notable outcome of the Rail Modernization Program – part of the massive PHP 1,100 billion infrastructure development project approved by the Philippine Congress – is the reduction of the daily commute time to a total of 55 minutes from house to place of work – far quicker than the current six-hour daily commute! Survey results showed that 90% of Filipino people would choose to spend more time at home with their families rather than have an opulent lifestyle.
Theirs is a culture of quality lifestyle and valued family time over consumption and excess needs. A city with strong public transport can give its citizens that most valuable commodity: time. The outcome of the program will include new tracks, rolling stock, new stations, development of brownfield projects reinstating rail that had been discontinued.
As the Philippine government has mandated the need for authorities to move to an integrated, digital world, Trapeze technology solutions are ideally aligned to where the Philippine railway organisations, asset owners and operators need to be.
My presentation on the Trapeze Enterprise Rail Management solution was great fun and well received. I talked about how 40 years of experience puts us in the right position to provide the knowledge and advice that’s needed for projects like the Philippines Railway Modernization program to succeed.
Looking at how information across rail organisations has traditionally been handled – in siloes, disconnected – and how the Trapeze solution manages information – integrated in an enterprise information management solution – delegates saw how every process could be integrated into one platform.
The areas of simulation, planning, operations and maintenance can all be interconnected, all sharing data and information with each other, giving a clearer picture across the entire organisation about what’s happening, where it’s happening and what needs to be done. These capabilities all align with the Philippine government’s push for digitisation.
During the event, it was great to meet many representatives. There was so much interest in my first presentation that on day two, I ran an on-the-spot demonstration of our Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solution at the Trapeze stand!
Honeywell gave an interesting presentation on how railway organisations can use integrated facility communications – intelligent buildings – to manage stations and other locations. Assets such as escalators, lifts, emergency alerts and security can all be connected. When sensors identify faults, the Trapeze Enterprise Asset Management system could easily integrate to automatically generate work orders to management, reducing down time and improving safety.
The overarching message that I took away from the event was that the digitisation and modernisation of the Philippine public transport system will create significant opportunities for growth and development across the region.
With such a focus on improvement, where will the Philippines be in 50 years’ time? Will it become the Singapore of the future?
With the right resources, a lot of work and the best technology, the prospects are exciting. Public transport is the backbone of a successful society, and the Philippines looks as if it’s on the right track.