SGRail Industry Scholarship
Feature | SGRail Industry Scholarship

On Track to Make a Difference

Jointly operated by the SBS Transit Ltd and SMRT Corporation Ltd, Singapore’s rail network features 200 stations spanning more than 250km today with over three million daily ridership. With such an extensive system and the expansion of our transport network with new rail lines, it requires dedicated and talented engineers like Kwang Yu Yeung (Leon) and Cho Choon Hock in the rail industry.

Left: Cho Choon Hock is pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering with NTU and took up the SGRail Industry Scholarship. He is currently interning with the Rolling Stock Department in SBS Transit's Downtown Line and building essential knowledge for his career.

Right: Kwang Yu Yeung (Leon) undertook the SGRail Industry Scholarship and is studying Mechanical Engineering at NUS. Having completed his SMRT internship in their Rolling Stock Department, he is looking to put his knowledge into practice.

We envision a land transport system that is convenient, well-connected and fast where rail continues to be the backbone of Singapore’s public transport system.

Our rail network is globally renowned for its efficiency. Its main network covers the entire island through its 200 stations across six MRT lines and two LRT lines. This vital transport system plays an integral role in Singapore’s hustle and bustle, and with the new rail lines, a diverse pool of talented engineers is required to maintain it.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA), together with SBS Transit Ltd and SMRT Corporation Ltd, offers the SGRail Industry Scholarship to talented students with engineering backgrounds such as Kwang Yu Yeung (Leon) and Cho Choon Hock. Both are Mechanical Engineering students at NUS and NTU respectively, and through the scholarship, they received the opportunity to intern with SMRT and SBS Transit’s Rolling Stock Department respectively for valuable first-hand experience.

Can you share some interesting facts about Singapore’s rail industry?

Yu Yeung: You can find decommissioned MRT train parts like benches and safety handrails repurposed for use within the Singapore heartlands. For instance, benches are repurposed and upcycled to community chairs installed in community spaces. These benches originate from decommissioned MRT trains which served the North-South and East-West MRT lines (NSEWL) that was operated by SMRT. It is nice to see Singapore’s public rail industry playing a part in reducing waste through upcycling initiatives like this, especially since these items are still serviceable and should get a second lease of life to continue serving the community.

Choon Hock: Our iconic MRT trains contribute to green efforts, with decommissioned first-generation trains repurposed for education, training and heritage purposes. The next time you sit on a bench or see new plant holders around your neighbourhood, those might have come from our old trains!

“The SGRail Industry Scholarship has given me a unique experience. If you are passionate about the rail industry and desire to make a difference, this is the perfect scholarship for you.” Cho Choon Hock

That is interesting! Is this why you gravitated toward this industry or were there other reasons?

Yu Yeung: It has always been my ambition to pursue a career in the public rail sector ever since my interest got piqued during my polytechnic years when I took the train on a daily basis to get to places. Like many of my fellow Singaporeans who ride the MRT trains every day as well, I understood then the importance of a reliable and efficient public rail system in our daily lives.

I also took modules during my studies that have relevance to rail engineering, which further cemented my interest in pursuing a career in this industry.

I wish to be in a position where I can serve and make a difference in Singapore’s public rail system.

Therefore, between the private and public sectors of the rail industry, I chose the latter because I want to commit myself to a purposeful career and contribute to the Singapore’s public rail sector as a frontline maintenance engineer. Ultimately, I wish to be part of the nation’s conscientious effort to develop and enhance the public rail system.

Joining the public rail sector was a clear choice for me, and the SGRail Industry scholarship will certainly help me fulfil my career aspirations.

Choon Hock: I find the rail industry to be more fulfilling and better suited to my career interests, and I pivoted towards it as I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. As public transport is an integral and irreplaceable component for many Singaporeans, my work will allow me to directly impact their lives.

Why did you choose the SGRail Industry Scholarship and how has it supported you?

Yu Yeung: I chose this scholarship as I wanted to serve the Singaporean community through an engineering-related career in the public rail sector.

Being a part of this scholarship exposes me to various on-the-ground experiences and hands-on engineering skills, bringing to life the theoretical knowledge that I have acquired in the lecture rooms at school. Another valuable aspect is the opportunity to meet and connect with fellow like-minded transport scholars across the industry who are also keen to effect positive change in the sector.

With LTA, I can gather insights in relation to the planning and designing of our public rail systems. On the other hand, with SMRT, I can gain valuable experience with regards to the operation and maintenance of the different assets (e.g., Rolling Stocks, Permanent Way) it manages. These experiences would equip me with the knowledge and expertise required in my future role as an engineer in Singapore’s public rail sector and, my long-term career in the rail industry.

So far, this scholarship has provided a great platform to launch my career, and I look forward to a long and fruitful journey in this industry.

Choon Hock: I chose this scholarship to make a tangible impact on the lives of others, and as the rail industry is an integral part of many people’s daily lives, my work here allows me to do so directly.

In addition, the scholarship offers a unique work exposure to both the public and private sectors. With the LTA, I can work on the planning, designing and commissioning phases of our rail systems. With SBS Transit, I can cover strong on-site rail engineering domains like Rolling Stock and Permanent-Way maintenance. This exclusive experience will reinforce my acquired knowledge while also providing opportunities to apply it on the job.

Having this scholarship has motivated me in studying for my career. Whenever I learn something, I think about applying it to our rail systems. The scholarship also supports my long-term career plan as it opens many different opportunities from both the public and private sectors.

“This scholarship provides us with diverse career opportunities with a wide range of specialities such as Signalling, Rolling Stock, Power, Permanent Way and Systems. This helps to fulfil an individual’s career aspirations and achieve their highest potential in the industry.” Kwang Yu Yeong (Leon)

As part of the scholarship, you were able to intern with the Public Transport Operators’ Rolling Stock Department. Can you share about your internship and what you have learned?

Yu Yeung: I did my internship with SMRT Trains, Rolling Stock Engineering department where I was able to establish foundational knowledge of the different types of Rolling Stock assets that it operates given that I was heavily involved in the syllabus reviews of the Rolling Stock Vocation Training Programme. Being a part of the team helped me better understand the challenges faced in operating Singapore’s public rail system.

I also learnt about the working principles of the different subsystem of a Rolling Stock (e.g., propulsion, electrical, radio, air-conditioning & etc.), how they are interrelated and how to carry out error analysis for them. This basic and fundamental knowledge of the systems is important as it builds a strong foundation when I begin my career.

Choon Hock: My internship experience has been very fruitful. I was attached to the Rolling Stock Department for the Downtown Line, investigating and recommending appropriate solutions on train subsystems. I also had the chance to learn from my seniors and followed engineers on-site to learn more about maintenance practices. These experiences have provided me a deeper understanding of the different train systems and better equipped me for my future career.

Would you recommend this scholarship to aspiring students?

Yu Yeung: I would recommend it to individuals who are passionate about engineering and, perhaps more importantly, interested in the public transportation sector. This scholarship provides us with diverse career opportunities in terms of rail engineering, system engineering, maintenance operations and project engineering. Additionally, there is a wide range of specialties such as Signaling, Rolling Stock, Power, Permanent Way, and Systems. This helps to fulfil an individual’s career aspirations and achieve their highest potential. Most importantly, it will enable them to make a “RAIL” impact in the sector.

Choon Hock: Definitely! The SGRail Industry Scholarship has given me a unique experience. The exposure to both the public and private sectors is an invaluable opportunity to improve the lives of others, not something everybody gets to have. If you are passionate about the rail industry and desire to make a difference, this is the perfect scholarship for you.