Heritage Trains, Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand), Workforce and Training

PWI cadet scholarship for rail work in Tasmania

PWI Tasmania cadet


A scholarship from the Permanent Way Institution (PWI) of NSW has enabled a young engineering cadet from New South Wales to embark on a unique work experience opportunity in remote western Tasmania.

Liam Clowes, a civil engineering student at the University of Newcastle, is one of the recipients of the Don Hagarty Cadet Program sponsored by the PWI, designed to provide a pathway for engineering students into the rail industry, by offering financial support and practical training.

As part of the program, Clowes was offered the chance to work with the West Coast Wilderness Railway, a heritage railway that runs between Queenstown and Strahan.

The West Coast Wilderness Railway (WCWR) is a reconstruction of the original railway built by the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company in the late 19th century. The railway showcases the rich history and natural beauty of the west coast region, passing through rainforests, gorges, and mining sites.

Clowes said he was thrilled to be involved in such an opportunity, as he had always been fascinated by railways and engineering.

“I’ve always loved trains and how they work, and I wanted to learn more about the technical aspects of rail infrastructure and maintenance,” he said.

“The WCWR is a great example of engineering innovation and heritage preservation, and I’m grateful to be able to work with the team there.”

Clowes’ work experience will involve assisting the WCWR engineering staff with upgrading works currently underway.

The WCWR is undergoing major upgrades to improve its reliability and resilience. The $16 million upgrade is expected to ensure the railway can continue to meet the growing demand for the rail experience and remain a major drawcard for the region for decades to come.

The upgrade involves inspecting and repairing the track, bridges, and locomotives, as well as implementing a new safety management system. The railway features a rare rack and pinion system that enables the locomotives to climb steep slopes and navigate sharp bends, which requires special maintenance and expertise.

Clowes hopes his work experience might inspire other young people to pursue a career in the rail industry.

“The rail industry seems to be a very exciting and rewarding field to work in, and I have already been exposed to so many opportunities to learn and grow since commencing as a cadet,” he said.

“I would definitely recommend the PWI Cadet Program to anyone who is interested in engineering and railways, and I am really looking forward to the work experience with the West Coast Wilderness Railway.”