AI Success Stories

MTR Logo MTR: Engineering Works Scheduling (2004)

hk mtrc - possession/engineering works scheduling 2004

Project Summary:

  • client: Hong Kong MTR
  • application: engineering work/possession scheduling, resource allocation
  • AI technology: business rules, heuristic search, genetic algorithm


Producing optimized schedules for nightly engineering works is highly complex with numerous engineering, operational, and safety rules to consider as well as priority and urgency of each of the subway engineering tasks to be performed. By using an AI rule-based approach combined with heuristic-guided search and Genetic Algorithms, our "AI Engine" ensures Hong Kong's subway system operates smoothly each and every day.

"Ensuring the safety of engineering staff and the consistently optimal operation of the MTR lines is the top priority of this AI scheduling system. With CityU's vast experience in this area, we are happy to have them working with us on this project," Ir Richard Keefe MTR Infrastructure Engineering Manager

Andy and Richard

Our Client

Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC), established in 1975, is one of the most heavily utilized underground railway networks in the world. Since the opening of the first line in 1979, the MTR has been providing a safe, reliable, and efficient service to passengers. The current subway is now over 88 km with 6 lines through 50 stations with a new Disneyland Resort Line opening in late 2005.

Business Needs

MTR carries 2.4 million passengers daily, making it one of the busiest in the world. Despite the large traffic-flow, the MTR has set for itself a very high service quality standard - train punctuality and delivery must be 99% and 99.5% on time respectively. To ensure these standards are met, the scheduling of engineering works must be optimized so that all necessary maintenance tasks are done in a timely manner.

AI Technology

Through the use of AI techniques, we were able to help the subway streamline their scheduling/rescheduling processes and maximize their resource utilization, while providing early identification of potential violations of safety and operational regulations and guidelines for all scheduled engineering works. In addition, valuable domain knowledge and expertise related to these regulations and guidelines are now quantified, coded and preserved within the organization, for use by this and other systems. Our AI Engine also makes use of several innovative techniques, such as a non-intrusive XML rule-engine, intelligent self-healing coding, and combining heuristic search with genetic algorithm. This is probably the first AI system to be deployed in Asia Pacific that uses these innovative techniques as well as a modern service-oriented architecture.

Business Benefits

Our AI Engine has been in daily use since July 2004. Since then all engineering works possession requests are processed and scheduled by our AI Engine, and MTR has been able to consistently maintain its quality commitments and standards. Workflows have also been greatly streamlined; time needed for the entire decision making process has been reduced.


  • Smart50 - 2006 Project of the Year Award
    ZDNet Asia, one of Asia's leading Web destinations for business and technology users, awarded us the "Project of the Year Award".

  • 2005 Asia Pacific Information Communication Technology Award - Best Industrial Application
    We were awarded the "2005 Best Industrial Application Award" at the annual APICTA competition. Over 160 projects competed for 15 awards out of 16 countries/economic zones in the Asia Pacific region!

  • 2005 IT Excellence Award
    The Hong Kong Computer Society awarded our AI Engine with a "2005 IT Excellence Award," in the category of "IT Applications." This is the most prestigious IT awards event in Hong Kong. This is also the first time any University in Hong Kong receives an award in this category that recognises large scale applications with major impact to Hong Kong society.

  • 2005 Innovative Applications of AI Award
    The American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) awarded our AI Engine with a "2005 Innovative Applications of AI Award," in the category of "Deployed Applications." This is a prestigious international award, given to only a few companies each year.

Press Coverages

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