Key innovation leaders from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) have joined with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to discuss Australia’s largest freight rail infrastructure project, the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail.

The Queensland section of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project will require the building of 272km of new tracks and provide some of the most technically challenging aspects of the programme including viaducts, bridges and a 6.4km long tunnel under the Great Dividing Range.

Inland Rail Programme Delivery Manager (North), Rob McNamara, said that with the Inland Rail Programme progressing in Queensland, and construction on the horizon in New South Wales, there will be many opportunities for innovative Australian businesses and organisations to benefit.

“When you think about what is required to deliver a 1700km long project between Melbourne and Brisbane in terms of design, engineering, construction and the related materials, skills, and expertise, there is a lot of potential scope for innovation,” Mr McNamara said.

“USQ research leaders provided us with an overview of some of their latest technologies at a workshop in Toowoomba, and the future opportunities for Inland Rail and its contractors to work with USQ are exciting.

“It’s almost serendipitous that here in Toowoomba we have this world-class research facility dedicated to innovative construction materials, and right on its doorstep is the most significant single capital investment of the Inland Rail Programme, the 6.4km tunnel down the Toowoomba range.”

USQ’s Centre for Future Materials is one of the leading research centres in Australia with a reputation for pioneering research and development in composite materials.

Research priority areas include advanced composite manufacturing, civil composites, functional materials, geopolymer and advanced concrete with research providing novel design, manufacture and testing for a variety of sectors such as civil, construction, automotive, aerospace, space and defence.

USQ has positioned itself to focus on industrial engagement and development with local, national and international companies in order to develop personnel, intellectual property, new products and open up new sectors through collaborative research programmes.

USQ Professor Peter Schubel said that the University had a 25-year history of developing cost-effective composites solutions for the civil and construction sectors addressing challenges such as weight, strength, sustainability and ease of manufacture.

“The ability for USQ to potentially engage in the Inland Rail Programme offers a fantastic opportunity to develop new products and processes which strengthen the business propositions of bidding consortiums whilst developing high-value knowledge and jobs in the region,” Mr Schubel said.

“ARTC has explained to us the scale and expanse of the overall programme, and highlighted that the most technically complex section of Inland Rail requiring major tunnelling work, is occurring within our region.”

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