Simon Wagner – CQUniversity

His PhD research topic: Heavy haul passenger flow forecasting application

Problems with large forces in heavy haul trains, during both normal and tippling operations, could be alleviated with additional damping. Damping systems, such as draft gears, are used to protect a rail car and its content during train movement.

Refitting these components with increased damping capacity often has the undesirable effect of increasing wear and reducing service life. In response, this project is looking to identify the potential to develop a new generation in-train drawgear connection system that doesn’t adversely increase wear or maintenance costs.

Can you describe your specific role in the PhD research project / team?
My role is to develop a drawgear device that has improved force control characteristics. Having previously worked for a world-leading heavy haul railway, I understand that improvements in the in-train force control can provide significant benefits. As axle loads increase and train lengths continue to grow, an innovative draw gear device could greatly assist the industry.

If I make meaningful developments in this area, it will allow increased safety, growth and efficiencies in the industry. Small improvements have the potential to make a big difference. As heavy haul railways push for greater throughput, running longer heavier trains can greatly reduce network congestion and allow increased efficiencies.

Why are you interested working in rail research?
Working in rail research will further broaden my rail knowledge, as well as hone my experience and problem-solving capabilities in this field. A PhD will further develop the high-end skillsets and experience that I desire. I began my career in rail in 2001 and the majority of my experience is in railway engineering and research.

What do you hope/plan to do following the conclusion of your PhD?
I plan to work in the heavy haul rail either in research or industry. Once my PhD is completed, I hope to contribute to the industry and push for growth, advancement and optimisation. I get great pleasure seeing a railway running like a well-oiled machine.

What’s been the best rail trip you’ve taken in the world?
After I completed my Masters, I worked for BHP in Port Hedland as they ran the longest heaviest trains in the world. I took several train trips while working at BHP. The in-train forces that are generated on these extreme heavy haul railways (with trains over 2.5 km long and weighing typically 40,000 tonnes) are immense. Watching the forces pass along the train as the track topography and driver actions changed was very exciting for me. Watching each rake go through the rotary dumper was equally exciting.

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