SINGAPORE – For four years, Mr Shahrin Abdol Salam worked for Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, overseeing the planning of the city’s rail networks and providing strategic advice on maintenance and development projects.
However, the 50-year-old Singaporean said he did not hesitate to say “yes” when he was invited to return to Singapore to rejoin his former employer SMRT to support the transport operator’s growth plans back in 2016.
“To me, it’s a straightforward answer when your country calls you to come back,” he said.
Mr Shahrin – who first joined SMRT as a maintenance engineer in 1998 – served as senior vice-president of plans and development for SMRT Trains upon his return.
He drove efforts to improve rail reliability, and helped the MRT network hit its reliability target ahead of the 2020 deadline set by then Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who wanted trains to travel no less than one million kilometers before encountering issues that caused a delay of more than five minutes.
The rail network, which in 2016 was clocking just 174,000km between such delays, surpassed Mr Khaw’s target in 2019.
On Friday evening, Mr Shahrin received Berita Harian’s Achiever of the Year award at a ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Now in its 25th year, the award, which is supported by the FairPrice Group, recognizes Malay-Muslims who have made a mark in their fields.
Mr Shahrin told reporters he was thankful and honored by the recognition, describing his work as a “call of duty”.
The father of four has been managing director of SMRT’s Thomson East-Coast Line since 2022, leading a team of 1,200 handling the operations, maintenance and project integration for Singapore’s sixth MRT line.
He is also the transport operator’s senior vice-president of strategic relations, and is involved in several international projects, such as the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link, which is scheduled to begin operations by end-2026.
Before he joined Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, Mr Shahrin was managing director of SMRT Engineering Middle East from 2008. In that role, he managed the development of the Palm Jumeirah monorail system in Dubai and Masdar City’s Personal Rapid Transit system, the first such projects of their kind.
Part of the role of a leader is to encourage the development of his staff, he said, noting that his own supervisors had helped nurture him professionally as a young engineer.
“The greatest success for me is to see my colleagues, my staff actually grow and be better than who they were before,” said Mr. Shahrin, who is also an active community volunteer in various capacities.
This includes chairing the Ayer Rajah Community Club management committee and sitting on the board of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds).