The Rail Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) is closing after six years of industry-leading research and the delivery of 65 projects.
The Centre was established in July 2014, and subsequently funded the delivery of 65 projects, supported the studies of 51 Australian-based PhD students, and worked with 35 rail organisations and universities.
In terms of project successes, these include:
- Dwell Track™ passenger tracking technology (developed by the University of Technology Sydney and Downer) patented, trademarked and trialled by the Sydney Trains rail network from August to November 2019
- Projects with CRRC and CSIRO which resulted in enhanced supercapacitor technologies to support catenary-free rail, with the impending commercial trials of the CSIRO-developed energy management system
- Arc welding software developed by CSIRO for use by CRRC to enable optimised welding parameters to be modelled and predicted
- Bombardier and the University of Queensland axle bearing projects that developed modelling software for use by for rolling stock maintainers to understand wear and maintenance cycles of axle bearings, with optimised maintenance cycles forecast to provide substantial savings and increased efficiencies
- Smart Rail Route Map process, delivered by Deakin University and the Australasian Railway Association as a complementary subset to the On Track to 2040 roadmap, bringing together rail industry leaders to develop a digital and communications roadmap and to support solutions implementation through an industry-led steering committee
Melbourne SME Airlinx completing computational ﬂuid dynamics modelling on air conditioning diffusers and airﬂow in train cabins to develop a model for improved thermal and air quality properties in passenger trains, even a more key focus now following the current COVID-19 pandemic
- Data analytics and predictive maintenance algorithms developed by Deakin University and the University of Queensland implemented into Downer’s TrainDNA system for train component monitoring
- High performance brake discs using advanced metal matrix composite materials with improved wear resistance and heat dissipation properties manufactured by CSIRO.
- With rail investment likely to hit $150 billion in the coming decades, greater opportunities are required to leverage such investment, in an aggregated way, to grow and enhance the national rail industry of the future.
Dr Stuart Thomson, CEO of the Rail Manufacturing CRC, said, “To achieve this, new models of cooperation between industry and researchers, individual state Governments and the Commonwealth Government will need to be explored. A national strategy for rail and rail innovation would be a great impetus for ensuring a future innovative rail sector.
“There is a need to strengthen the domestic rail supply chain. By providing incentives for SMEs to invest in research and development, and encouraging global suppliers currently not investing in local innovation or local supply chains to invest in the long term future of the local rail sector, this will create future advanced manufacturing businesses and employment opportunities.”
Following the Centre’s closure, the Rail Manufacturing CRC has launched a legacy website at www.rmcrc.com.au, containing project achievements, publications and outcomes all in the one location, with a number of video profiles included on key projects and a full suite of PhD student profiles.
“The Rail Manufacturing CRC legacy website will remain online to recognise the efforts of our participants and students in the delivery of industry-leading rail research. It is hoped that the online materials will be a vital resource used when future rail research is being proposed and conducted,” Dr Thomson said.
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) is also calling for new rail research funding to fill the void the CRC will leave in the industry.
ARA Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said the CRC had delivered new technologies to support improved efficiency and safety across the rail network.
“The Rail Manufacturing CRC has worked alongside rail manufacturers and operators to deliver new technology and innovation that will make a real difference to the industry,” Ms Wilkie said.
“The CRC’s collaborative focus has delivered some great results and the team can be very proud of its record of achievement.
“New funding is now essential to keep the focus on technology and innovation in rail.”
The ARA has commissioned a technology research paper to identify future priorities for research and development in the industry.
Ms Wilkie said it was essential that the government, business and industry worked in partnership to continue to build the productivity and competitiveness of the rail network.
“Technology will play an increasing role in the rail industry and continued investment is essential to make sure Australia remains at the forefront of innovation,” Ms Wilkie said.
“It is more important than ever that this work continues as the industry prepares for new growth.”
The Rail Manufacturing CRC developed six new technologies that are likely to yield commercial returns.
This has included a new passenger information system being used at Sydney’s Wynyard Station and the development of prototypes for supercapacitor control systems and composite brake discs.
Other projects are delivering improved real time monitoring of trains in service as well as condition monitoring to reduce wear and tear and extend maintenance cycles.
To view the ARA’s technology research brief, click here.