A collaboration between the Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), the Australian Railway Association (ARA) and Deakin University will see the development of a Smart Rail Route Map for Australia’s rail industry.

The $550,000 project ($200,000 in cash funding from Rail Manufacturing CRC and ARA, and $350,000 in in-kind contributions) will identify a long term vision for technology in the rail industry over the next 30 years through the establishment of a common view of priorities, themes, timelines and actions.

“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,” ARA’s CEO, Danny Broad, said.

The Deakin University project team, led by Professor Douglas Creighton from Deakin’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation, will provide expertise in Systems Mapping when workshopping, developing and modelling this project’s outputs.

“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,” Prof Creighton said.

The Rail Manufacturing CRC is responsible for identifying and funding innovative rail research that benefits the Australian rail industry, as clearly highlighted by this project.

“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. The Rail Manufacturing CRC looks forward to working with the ARA and Deakin University to see tangible collaborative opportunities identified,” Dr Stuart Thomson, CEO of Rail Manufacturing CRC, said.

The Smart Rail Route Map will be technology-neutral, and communicate the detail in a non-technical manner. The project outputs will be owned by the Australian rail industry and will be used to support the introduction of new technologies and services efficiently and cost-effectively.

Following an initial Smart Rail Industry workshop held in Melbourne in April, the steering committee and various industry participants have partaken in four mini-workshops to discuss the map’s key focus areas – Customer Service (Passenger), Customer Service (Freight), Traffic and Network Management, and High Performance Rail.

The project is expected for completion by 31 December 2018.

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