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Alex Bamford, Dr Samuel Chan and Goh Kai Xiang jointly hold the Queen’s baton
Alex Bamford, Deputy High Commissioner, at British High Commission in Singapore; Dr Samuel Chan, Group Director of Rail/Road Systems Engineering, at the Land Transport Authority; Goh Kai Xiang, Manager, Permanent Way, SMRT Trains

Representatives from the University of Birmingham and SMRT Corporation (SMRT) took to the urban rail network to participate in the 2022 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay in Singapore.

The Queen’s Baton will be going to all the countries taking part in the Games before finally reaching Birmingham, where the quadrennial Games will be held this year from 28 July to 8 August.

The University of Birmingham, one of the UK’s top universities for railway science and education, and SMRT, Singapore’s pioneer rail operator, have a longstanding partnership to train Singapore’s rail engineers and research partnerships that help to improve efficiency and reliability of the rail network.

Dr Samuel Chan, Group Director of Rail and Road Systems Engineering, at the Land Transport Authority, and SMRT engineer Goh Kai Xiang are alumni who have completed the Postgraduate Certificate in Urban Railway Engineering (Singapore), an educational partnership signed in 2016 between the university’s Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) and SMRT. The course professionalises students with knowledge from an institute of higher education for railway engineering as well as real-world operator experience.

Dr Chan and Mr Goh were the Queen’s Baton bearers on one leg of the relay in Singapore, signifying the close ties between the two cities. They took the Baton from Bayfront station on the Circle Line to Orchard station on the North-South Line via Marina Bay, as part of a global journey, of which the University is an official partner.

Dr Chan commented: “It is my great honour in representing the University of Birmingham at the 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay event in Singapore. This year is particularly meaningful to me as my connection with the renowned railway research group at Birmingham started exactly 40 years ago and kindled my lifelong passion in serving the railway industry. This relay reflects BCRRE’s continued global reach and meaningful partnership with Singapore.”

Mr Goh said: “It is a great honour for me to be a part of the Queen’s Baton Relay in Singapore. As an SMRT engineer and an alumnus of the programme developed by SMRT and the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, I am privileged to be in a position to contribute to the knowledge and technical expertise of rail systems to connect Singaporeans from all walks of life, and enhancing their lives.”

Five other Baton bearers had already carried the Baton to SIM*– the University’s partner campus – on the previous day, where it was welcomed by Alex Bamford, Deputy Head of Mission at the British High Commission Singapore, University of Birmingham representatives and some of the 600 students studying Birmingham business programmes at SIM.

Professor Clive Roberts, Director of BCRRE, commented: “We’re delighted to join our partners at SMRT to celebrate the Baton’s arrival in Singapore. We have been working together for a long time, both in research and rail engineer training. Some 300 rail engineers in Singapore now have a University of Birmingham qualification and all have used our digital rail simulation facilities as part of their training.”

Mr Lee Ling Wee, SMRT Corporation’s Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer and President International, said: “SMRT’s collaboration with the University of Birmingham exemplifies our commitment to the deepening of rail engineering expertise, to better serve the many commuters in Singapore who travel in our network. Together with the authorities and institutes of higher learning, we are constantly building a steady pipeline of dedicated engineers for the local rail industry, such as Kai Xiang. We are proud to have him represent SMRT in the Queen’s Baton Relay in the MRT network.”

Speaking about the Baton’s presence in Singapore, Professor Adam Tickell, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham, commented: “The University of Birmingham is a civic university with a global outlook. Our Commonwealth connections are deep and wide-ranging, particularly in Singapore, where we have engaged for many decades in education and research partnerships.

“Sport is a unifying force and, as part of our commitment to supporting the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, we are holding a series of academic, student and partner events in Commonwealth countries to coincide with the Queen’s Baton Relay visit.

“I am delighted that we can hold these exciting events, focussing on how we work collaboratively with research and education partners in Singapore to tackle global challenges and help improve the quality of life for people throughout Singapore.”

The University’s environmental scientists have helped create a hi-tech ‘heart’ for the Queen’s Baton, which contains atmospheric sensors with laser technology that analyses the environmental conditions wherever it is in the world. Augmented Reality (AR) will be used to visualise creatively data captured throughout the journey to invite conversations around air quality across the Commonwealth.

Data collected on the Baton’s journey will contribute to ongoing research projects being conducted across the globe by a team led by atmospheric scientist Professor Francis Pope who said, “Atmospheric data captured during the Baton’s global journey will be highly valuable in starting important conversations around air quality across the Commonwealth.”

  • For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0)782 783 2312. Out-of-hours enquiries: +44 (0) 7789 921 165.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 9,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The University has the most extensive education partnership of any Commonwealth Games and will host the athletes in its student accommodation, as well as providing a venue for hockey and squash.
  • The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) at the University of Birmingham is the largest university- based centre for railway research and education in Europe. With more than 145 researchers and staff it is developing world-leading new technologies and products for trains, railway systems and infrastructure alongside its renowned global higher education programmes. These two focal points of world-class education and research in all aspects of rail technology will deliver more reliable and efficient railway systems across the UK and beyond.
  • SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) is a public transport services provider. Our primary business is to manage and operate train services on the North-South Line, East-West Line, the Circle Line, the new Thomson-East Coast Line and the Bukit Panjang Light Rail Transit. This is complemented by our bus, taxi and private hire vehicle services. We have set our core values as Respect, Integrity, Service & Safety and Excellence. SMRT is committed to provide safe, reliable and comfortable service for our commuters.
  • The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Games tradition that celebrates, connects and excites communities from across Commonwealth during the build up to the Games.
  • Birmingham 2022 is staging the 16th official Queen’s Baton Relay – an epic journey across the Commonwealth, with The Queen’s Baton visiting all 72 nations and territories, reaching Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and the Americas.
  • The Relay began on 7 October 2021 at a special event at Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II placed Her message to the Commonwealth into the Baton.
  • The Baton will travel for 294 days, visiting all 72 nations and territories and connecting communities in every corner of the Commonwealth, embracing unique cultures and sharing stories. 
  • This collective journey will ignite hope, solidarity and collaboration for the next generation, with these stories leaving us all inspired to take on the challenges that matter most to us. 
  • The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will be held from 28 July until 8 August 2022, will be a major opportunity to feature the city, the region, and its people on the global stage.   
  • The Games is already proving to be a catalyst for transformation across the West Midlands, attracting new investment and funding, creating jobs and apprenticeships for the region.
  • local people and new opportunities for local businesses, as well as accelerating projects that will ensure the region is ready to host a fantastic sports and cultural celebration.   
  • Birmingham 2022 will be the Games for everyone, bringing people together from across Birmingham and the region, to provide a warm welcome to millions of visitors during the summer of 2022.