Metro rail workers

The Australasian Rail Industry (ARI) Awards were held in Melbourne on 13 September, with the industry’s most innovative individuals, organisations and projects recognised. 

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO and ARI Awards judging chair, Caroline Wilkie, said almost 800 people gathered to congratulate the 16 winners of the highly anticipated awards.

“The ARI awards celebrate the incredible organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to ensure we continue to deliver a high-quality rail network that is safe, efficient, innovative and sustainable,” Ms Wilkie said.

“The talent of this year’s nominees reflects an industry that is working harder and smarter as we forge ahead on a once-in-a-generation $154 billion pipeline of projects to support greater use of rail across our passenger and freight networks.”

The 2023 awards featured 16 categories recognising individuals, organisations and rail projects in the areas of diversity and inclusion, sustainability, passenger, infrastructure, innovation, supply, customer experience, freight, signalling and systems engineering and safety. 

Arc Infrastructure Senior Stakeholder Relations Advisor, Kevin Reeves, won the Career Achievement Award in recognition of his significant contribution to the industry.

Ms Wilkie congratulated Arc Infrastructure on its win and Mr Reeves for his outstanding commitment to the rail industry.

“Arc Infrastructure’s autonomous rail container wagon will enable much faster movements to and from port and will make rail more competitive with other modes,” Ms Wilkie said. 

“It is incredible to think that this innovation has the potential to increase rail modal share from about 20 per cent at Fremantle Port to nearly 100 per cent at the proposed Westport.”

The project is aligned with Western Australia’s Westport initiative and focuses on safer and more efficient transportation, while reducing environmental impact. 

Trials are planned for late 2023, with the innovation set to offer a range of safety benefits for the freight sector. 

Mr Reeves began his career at regional Western Australia stations and later moved to Perth, where he held numerous operational positions before specialising in safeworking.

Ms Wilkie said Mr Reeves is well-regarded in the Western Australian rail industry for his commitment to training and mentoring train controllers.

“Kevin has had an outstanding career and has been a real champion of safeworking, a go-to expert on rules and a well-respected mentor and trainer. The judging committee congratulates Kevin for his contribution and dedication over an impressive 50 years working in rail,” Ms Wilkie said.

The Awards also featured a range of individual awards for emerging leaders and young rail professionals.

  • The Emerging Rail Specialist Award was awarded to Mott MacDonald Chartered Electrical Engineer, Kirshan Pillai
  • The Young Achiever Award went to John Holland Site Engineer, Benson Wong
  • The Young Rail Professional Award was awarded to ARUP Senior Track Design Engineer, Ryan Spooner
  • The Signalling and Systems Engineering Award was awarded to WSP Technical Executive – Rail, Moemedi Goitsemang

“I would like to congratulate these winners who have all shone early in their career through their commitment and dedication to exemplary practices, innovative solutions and driving real change in the rail industry,” Ms Wilkie said.

Ms Wilkie congratulated Sydney Trains for its outstanding safety initiatives and impressive improvements in diversity and inclusion.

Under Sydney Trains’ Train Crewing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion program, female trainees increased from 21.6 per cent to 53.3 per cent between 2017 and 2022 and non-frontline women roles increased from 25.1 per cent to 41 per cent.

“Sydney Trains has implemented incredibly impressive diversity and inclusion programs that have boosted representation of women in frontline operational and leadership roles,” Ms Wilkie said.

Sydney Trains also received the Supplier Excellence Award for its Enterprise Trackworker Safety Blindsight initiative, an artificial intelligence vision system designed to alert workers of any risks on site.

Another of its safety initiatives, the ‘Seconds Count’ program, won the Employee Engagement Excellence Award.

“Sydney Trains has developed a thoroughly engaging, innovative approach to improving safety on the rail network. The extremely clever gamified videos in ‘Seconds Count’ not only effectively engaged employees but enabled quick decision making through real-world simulations,” Ms Wilkie said.

“In another safety project, Sydney Trains’ AI vision initiative Blindsight has been a game-changer for increasing safety throughout the rail network, showing real risk on site and capturing near misses far more than manual-paper-based methods.

“This year’s awards were highly contested with so many incredible entries, so for Sydney Trains to pick up several awards is a commendable achievement.”

The Awards are supported by the Australasian Railway Association, Institution of Railway Signal Engineers, Railway Technical Society of Australia, Rail Track Association Australia, the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board and the Permanent Way Institution (NSW). 

Featured image: Metro rail workers. Image credit: Australian Railway Association.

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