The Australasian Rail Industry Awards celebrate the achievements of the rail industry delivering projects and initiatives, despite challenges such as the global pandemic, and this year’s 13 winners have been announced. 

The winners include:

  • Signalling and Systems Engineering Award (IRSE) — Lido Costa, Rio Tinto Iron Ore
  • Emerging Rail Specialist Award (RTTA) — Nithurshan Nadarajah, Monash Institute of Railway Technology
  • Young Achiever Award (PWI NSW) — Melanie Bowden, CPB Contractors
  • Young Rail Professional Award (RTSA) — Mary Nguyen, Sydney Trains
  • Safety Award (RISSB) — Sydney Trains, Platform Gap Filler
  • Customer Service Award (ARA) — Sydney Trains, Sydney Harbour Bridge Rail Deck Upgrade
  • Employee Engagement Award (ARA) — Metro Trains Melbourne, Stay Connected at Metro
  • Freight Rail Excellence Award (ARA) — Arc Infrastructure, Hampton Intermodal Terminal
  • Innovation and Technology Award (ARA) — Kiwi Rail, Downer, Aurecon — Trentham to Upper Hutt Double Tracking
  • Rail Sustainability Award (ARA) — North Western Program Alliance — High Street Level Crossing Removal Project — Reservoir station sustainability
  • Workforce Diversity Award (ARA) — Australia Diversity and Inclusion (I&D) Strategy
  • Tracksafe Foundation Award — Metro Trains Melbourne — Rail RUOK? Month at Metro
  • Career Achievement Award — Trevor Moore, JMDR

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) Chair and awards judging chair, Danny Broad, said, “Even as the rail industry delivered an essential service safely and efficiently during a challenging year, it continued to innovate and deliver impressive projects.

“Today’s awards demonstrate the determination and dedication of the people working in rail, during a critical time.”

Winners included the North Western Program Alliance who won the Rail Sustainability Award for pioneering the delivery of Reservoir Station in Melbourne. 

It was the first station in Australia to receive a five-star sustainability rating by the Green Building Council of Australia, making it the benchmark for future level crossing removal projects.

Success for Sydney Trains

Sydney Trains won two awards, for Safety and Customer Service. Its Sydney Harbour Bridge Rail Deck Upgrade project encompassed a decade of planning on one of the busiest sections of the network. 

It was also the first time this critical piece of rail infrastructure was refurbished since the bridge opened in 1932.

ARA Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Wilkie, said despite ten days of continuous construction, Sydney Trains received 98 per cent positive feedback from the community.

“Carrying out major works on the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a once-in-a generation job and Sydney Trains managed to do so with minimal impact to customers, making them a well-deserved recipient of the Customer Service Award,” Ms Wilkie said.

Sydney Trains’ Platform Gap Filler project earned the Safety award, sponsored by RISSB,  after reducing falls between the Circular Quay platform and train from an average of 33 per year to zero.

RISBB Chair, David George, said the Sydney network encompasses trains and platforms from different eras, parts of which are over 100 years old.

“Developing a one-size fits all approach was not an option, so engineers developed a cost-effective and efficient solution made from flexible non-slip rubber filler that bends on contact with trains,” Mr George said.

“The safety solution is now being activated across the network and we are delighted to recognise Sydney Trains for their hard work.”

Industry achievements 

Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) won two awards for employee engagement, with a range of new initiatives focusing on protecting the mental health of their 6,500 staff during months of lockdowns.

The organisation was commended for keeping employees safe in the world’s most locked down city.

TrackSAFE Foundation Executive Director, Heather Neil, said transforming all face-to-face activities into virtual programs was not only a success, it guided MTM staff through difficult circumstances.

“MTM’s programs received a 30 per cent increase in engagement to the year prior and we acknowledge the wellness team for taking employee mental health seriously,” Ms Neill said.

Arc Infrastructure received the Freight Rail Excellence Award for delivering a 12-month construction project in only 98 days. The Hampton Intermodal Terminal (IMT) in Western Australia now employs 30 new train drivers, uses 150 locomotives and wagons and supports new growth opportunities.

GHD won the Workforce Diversity Award for its commitment to improving marginalised groups’ visibility in the industry. A range of initiatives created lasting community benefits and increased the diversity composition of senior staff.

3D digital shields developed in New Zealand by KiwiRail, Downer and Aurecon are keeping workers safe and trains running near the nation’s capital. 

Virtual ‘no-go’ zones protect overhead power lines and sensitive areas by locking the controls of excavators when the machine touches the digital shield.

The technology has led to other developments such as virtual reality experiences for children to increase rail safety awareness, and was a worthy winner of the award for Innovation and Technology.

Mr Broad said these submissions and others highlighted the importance of rail in the community.

“The judges were impressed by how the rail industry uses technology, sustainability and diversity measures to modernise the rail industry,” Mr Broad said.

“It highlights how flexible rail is to adapt to deliver exceptional projects and initiatives for people using the rail network.”

Career Achievement Award 

The outstanding achievements of individuals were also highlighted, with JMDR Senior Signals Manager Trevor Moore receiving the prestigious career achievement award. 

For half a century Trevor has shaped railway signalling, from encouraging innovation to revolutionising how trains move around the country.

Award Sponsor Frauscher Managing Director, David Townsend, said Trevor’s knowledge, leadership and integrity has earned him the trust of signalling engineers throughout Australia.

“Everyone in the signalling space knows Trevor and the work he has influenced, so we were delighted to present him with the award,” Mr Townsend said.

Young Achiever Award 

CPB Contractors Project Manager, Melanie Bowden, was presented with the PWI Young Achiever Award for her exceptional leadership and management of a major infrastructure project for Sydney Metro.

PWI Young Achiever Award Committee Chair, Julian Sharp, said Melanie headed a team of engineers and other staff to develop construction methodology and design, overcoming multiple challenges to successfully and safely deliver the Northern Connection Permanent Down Shore works.

“Successful delivery of these works was critical to provide space in the already-restricted rail corridor between the Artarmon and Chatswood stations and it was no easy task, but Melanie rose to the challenge and managed the project magnificently,” Mr Sharp said.

“She is also an excellent role model for young rail professionals and actively participates in a number of rail industry initiatives targeting diversity and young leaders, so we expect Melanie will go far in rail.”

Sydney Trains Program Manager, Mary Nguyen, won the Railway Technical Society of Australasia’s (RTSA) Young Rail Professional Award.

RTSA Executive Chair, Roy Unny, said Mary’s engineering and planning knowledge has led to multiple innovative solutions.

“Mary’s enthusiasm for technology has not only improved how Sydney Trains makes decisions and manages project requirements for critical resources, she has saved hundreds of hours of time for staff with her Access Locator App and track possession software,” Mr Unny said.

“She is also a passionate advocate for diversity, gender equality and inclusion and is a shining example of how modern the rail industry is.”

The Rail Track Association Australia (RTAA) confirmed Monash Institute of Railway Technology Research Engineer Nithurshan Nadarajah as the winner of its Emerging Rail Specialist Award.

RTAA President, Jonathan Barnes, said Nithurshan’s ground-breaking technology has positively impacted Australian rail.

“Nithurshan’s digital modelling software better predicts how rollingstock responds to potential stressors in the field,” Mr Barnes said.

“It allows the rail industry to improve how risks are managed when individual conditions deteriorate, and we are impressed with Nithurshan’s approach to improve safety by providing greater accuracy around derailment risks and developing a more holistic view of operational risks.”

Rio Tinto Principal AutoHaul, Lido Costa, took home the Signalling and Systems Engineering Award sponsored by IRSE.

IRSE Chair, Georgina Hartwell, said Lido has been at the forefront of transportation delivery projects that have moved millions of people and tonnes of freight safely and efficiently.

“His relentless drive for improvements, innovation and safety has given Australia a world first and numerous high-tech features,” Ms Hartwell said.

“Rewarding Lido for 35 years of commitment and dedication was a pleasure and a privilege for the IRSE.”

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