The future starts now – a look at AusRAIL 2018

With a theme of ‘Rail – For a Better Future’, this year’s AusRAIL event, held in Canberra, attracted strong representation from the Australasian railway industry, with over 700 registered attendees and 97 exhibitors on display.

The Rail Manufacturing CRC sponsored 11 PhD students to participate in the two-day conference, who joined four members from the Centre’s Management team and Board also in attendance.

With a mix of really strong presenters on board, there were a number of standouts. Frances Valintine of the Tech Futures Lab talked about people being the biggest challenge to impact innovation, which was clearly emphasised by the launch of the BIS Oxford Economics Report identifying clear skills shortages for the rail industry in the coming years and decades.

As always, the Future Leaders Program session and the Young Rail Professionals pitching competition entrants promoted those excellent young employees climbing the ranks in Australian rail businesses. The winner of the Young Rail Professionals competition was Downer Rail’s Owen Plagens, who shared his intelligent seating recommendation system, the technology of which ties into DwellTrack technology developed by Downer, the University of Technology Sydney and the Rail Manufacturing CRC.

We were also pleased to have the Rail Manufacturing CRC represented in three sessions during the two-day conference. Dr Stuart Thomson delivered Real progress in rail R&D – a look at the Centre, key project achievements, an overview of the Centre’s students program and a video introduction to the DwellTrack passenger tracking technology developed with Downer and UTS.

Monash University PhD student Dongyu Zhang presented Unmanned aerial system for railway inspection, a detailed introduction to his research (co-funded by the Rail Manufacturing CRC) into the use of drones to assess railway assets.

The Centre also had a final appearance on day two with Stuart participating in the panel discussion titled Smart rail: Technology of the future. Facilitated by Loulou Hammad of Bombardier, this session took a deeper dive into the smart rail route map project underway, led by Deakin University, the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and the Rail Manufacturing CRC.

Well done to the Australasian Railway Association for pulling together such a cohesively themed event, it was a pleasure to participate.

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