New $7.3m rail training centre to address industry challenges

Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

New $7.3m rail training centre to address industry challenges

A new $7.3 million rail training centre is being launched at the University of Wollongong (UOW) with the aim of training the next generation of rail engineers with the necessary skills to maintain and upgrade Australia’s rail network.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Advanced Technologies in Rail Track Infrastructure (ITTC Rail) will bring together rail track infrastructure expertise from all sectors of the rail industry, with eight universities and 11 national and international industry partners taking part.

Announced by Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham, ITTC Rail is the first ever rail training centre to be funded by the Australian Government. It received a $3.9 million ARC grant supported by an additional $3.4 million in contributions from the NSW Government and industry and university partners.

Australia has the sixth largest rail network in the world, meaning it plays a crucial role in the national economy. ITTC Rail Director Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna, from UOW’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, said the centre aims to create innovative engineering solutions and develop a skilled young professional workforce to meet the future technological requirements of the industry.

Other key aims of the centre include: enhancing railway performance and extending infrastructure longevity; advancing fabrication techniques and more resilient product development; and developing strategies to commercialise manufacturing, engineering and design innovations.

It also intends to assist in reforming technical standards and regulations, and position Australia as a global research and development leader in rail engineering.

Indraratna explained, “Given the dependency of the Australian economy on efficient heavy haul, there is a pressing need to upgrade ageing rail infrastructure by rejuvenating higher degree training with a new generation of engineers with advanced knowledge and practice skills.

“Australia also has some of the world’s heaviest as well as longest heavy-haul trains, exceeding 4 km at times, with considerable challenges offered to railway engineers along problematic soil terrains.

“Through specialist training of industry-focused researchers, ITTC Rail will meet the challenge of designing, constructing and maintaining the rail network.

“This will involve close collaboration with companies in the rail supply chain, programs to promote novel design approaches, and innovative fabrication of products using advanced manufacturing techniques.”

Birmingham said the training centre would be critical in supporting the federal government’s significant investment in rail infrastructure projects across Australia.

“Our commitment to rail infrastructure investment will generate jobs, ease congestion in our cities, increase the capacity of our freight routes and better connect regional areas,” he said.

“The Turnbull government’s investment in the new training centre at the University of Wollongong will ensure Australia’s future workforce has the specialised skills and expertise to deliver on projects such as the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail, the Port Botany Rail Upgrade and the Melbourne Airport Rail Link.”

The universities contributing to ITTC Rail are: University of Wollongong, Swinburne University of Technology, University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology, Curtin University, University of Queensland, Western Sydney University and University of Newcastle.

Industry partners are: Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation, Metro Trains Melbourne, Bridgestone Corporation, Snowy Mountains Engineering Corp, Innovative Technology Beijing, China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group, Ecoflex International, Geofrontiers, Polyfabrics Australasia, Nu-rock Technology and Elasto-Plastic Concrete.

Top image: Buddhima Indraratna, ITTC Rail Director and Professor at UOW’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences.

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