Wednesday 19th Dec, 2018

Collaborative research to map route for rail technology development

Perth railway station. Photo: Public Domain

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) is teaming up with the Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and Deakin University to map out the rail industry’s long-term priorities for technological development and innovation.

The Smart Rail Route Map will be developed by a project team from Deakin University, which will provide expertise in Systems Mapping when workshopping, developing and modelling this project’s outputs, and from the Rail Manufacturing CRC, which will identify innovative rail research that benefits the industry.

The project team from Deakin University will be led by Professor Douglas Creighton from the university’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation.

“The project team is collaborating directly with a newly established steering committee, made up of representatives across the Australian rail industry, to define industry goals, map the key challenges for the rail sector over the next 30 years relating to technology disruption, and identify focus area objectives and initiatives,” said Professor Creighton.

The $550,000 project will be jointly funded by the ARA and the Rail Manufacturing CRC (each contributing $350,000 and $200,000 respectively).

“The Smart Rail Route Map will help our industry to realise the vision of a national approach to rail technology, bringing economies of scale, support interoperability and many other efficiencies,” the ARA’s CEO Danny Broad said.

The Smart Rail Route Map will reportedly be “technology-neutral” – i.e. technologies will be assessed without pre-determined biases – and communicate details and findings in a “non-technical” manner. Project outputs will be owned by the Australian rail industry and are to support the efficient and cost-effective development of new technologies and services.

“The Smart Rail Route Map will translate ideas and data into a meaningful direction for how the Australian rail industry can leverage technology in the coming decades,” said the Rail Manufacturing CRC’s Dr Stuart Thomson.

“The Rail Manufacturing CRC looks forward to working with the ARA and Deakin University to see tangible collaborative opportunities identified.”

An initial Smart Rail Industry workshop was held in Melbourne in April, while four mini-workshops have been carried out with the steering committee and various industry participants on the map’s key focus areas: customer service for passenger and freight rail, traffic and network management, and high performance rail.

The Smart Rail Route Map is to feature at the ARA-hosted Telecommunication and Technology Forum in Melbourne on 30 October 2018.

The project will reportedly be complete by the end of 2018.

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