Events, Operations & Maintenance, Products & Resources

RTAA field days showcase best of rail equipment


The wet weather failed to dampen the spirits of attendees at this year’s Rail Track Association of Australia field day.

The event, held at Sydney Trains’ Chullora rail yards, attracted about 45 exhibitors from all facets of the rail industry, displaying their latest products and wares. Visitors came from near and far despite the presence of mini-pools throughout the drenched grounds from persistent rain, jumping on the opportunity to try before they buy.

With the new precinct substantially larger than the previous site at Clyde, offering more than 50 per cent more area for the event, organisers were able to set up distinct areas for hosting and demonstrating the different equipment and machines in their natural environments.

The field days were opened by Sydney Trains chief executive officer Matt Longland, followed by a traditional smoking ceremony and Welcome to the Country.

As RTAA president Johnathan Barnes said, it is the largest outdoor rail exhibition in Australia.

Hosted in a rail yard, it provides a unique opportunity to showcase heavy equipment, rail bound machines and demonstrate these fantastic machines in their native environment.

“Paired with live demonstrations of welding technology and hands-on displays of hand tools, it is a unique event for maintainers and constructors to see and touch the latest technology,” Barnes said.

“The products don’t have to be earth-shattering, big, bold or flashy, but a lot of them are about those incremental improvements that will make life a lot better for everyone in and what we do.

“You don’t get this opportunity in closed conference events such as AUSRail.

“All up we had an absolutely packed technical program in the Fettlers shed.”

Melvelle Equipment showed off its portable Light Boy balloon lights, which illuminate worksites with minimal glare; voestalpine displayed its UniStar HR electro-hydraulic point machine for freight, urban and mixed traffic, which has already been installed in 30 countries; Sydney Trains had its asset management app in operation; and passenger accessibility ramps were exhibited by the Australian Centre for Rail Innovation.

The live demonstrations included:

  • Aluminothermic welding by Thermit and Pandrol
  • Flashbutt welding by Swietelsky
  • Rail grinding by Speno
  • Rail milling by Linmag
  • Cutting and grinding with hand held equipment by Saint Gobaine
  • Melville Aluminocart – a hand portable powered rail cart
  • Tinbin excavator-mounted ballast vacuum

There were also interactive displays from the likes of RT Health with the Evolt body health scanner; Plasser with its tamping simulator; and KH1, Cold Forge, Melville and Keysource with hands-on displays of the latest in hand-held rail equipment.

Barnes said the field days also presented an opportunity to reach out to the next generation of rail staff and “show them what and how we do what we do”.

“With our colleagues in the learning and development industry, we can talk about the pathways to rail and how they can get the role that interests them,” he said.

Another highlight of the proceedings was the traditional no-tie conference dinner, held at the large Accor Stadium in Sydney Olympic Park, and made possible by Platinum Dinner Sponsor Laing O’Rourke and Gold Dinner Sponsor Saint-Gobaine Abrasives.

“It was held again as a casual affair to celebrate and wind down after a busy day,” Barnes said.

“And what better way to open the dinner, than with a trip to the field at Accor Stadium. We moved from a field day onto a different sort of field.

“The attendees were taken on a tour through the depths of the stadium and the players’ entrance to the field, before moving up to the dining room where light jazz music greeted the guests.”

The coveted “Best in Field Trophy” for the best 2022 field day stand went to transport and railway health insurers rt health.

Other sponsors included Delkor Rail, Speno Rail Maintenance, Anric Developments, Plasser Australia, Pandrol, Kennards, Australian Mutual Bank, Zoellner Australia and event partner Sydney Trains.