Heavy haul rail study earns Swinburne researcher technical prize

Tuesday 16 September 2014

The large waved Swinburne signage of the Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre building in Hawthorn which faces East down Burwood Road.

Swinburne University of Technology’s Dr Sagheer Ranjha has been awarded the 2014 Railway Technical Society of Australia (RTSA) Post Graduate Thesis Award.

The award was made for Dr Sagheer’s research on the potential risk of damage to railway rails caused by the stresses imposed by heavy haul conditions such as those used in the transport of iron ore.

Dr Sagheer investigated the unstable growth of pre-existing cracks, especially the tendency for a rail break due to rapid fracture under high axle loads, in order to predict allowable rail head wear limits.

This research was based on field measurements conducted on rails in heavy haul iron ore operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

These conditions are typical of those experienced in Australian heavy haul iron ore railways.

Dr Sagheer found that peak stresses are mainly due to the localised bending of the rail head on the rail web; the magnitude of these stresses depends on the wheel contact position, lateral and vertical forces and rail head wear.

His results can be used to examine the influence of wheel-rail interaction and rail head wear on the possibility of a catastrophic rail failure developing from rolling contact fatigue damage.

Swinburne’s Professor Ajay Kapoor along with Monash University's Peter Mutton supervised this research project.

The RTSA presented the award at a ceremony at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus on 16 September.

It comprises a cash prize of $10,000, a commemorative plaque and one year membership of the RTSA, a joint technical society of Engineers Australia and the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand.

The award is offered annually to the author of an outstanding doctoral or research master degree thesis on a topic concerned with the rail industry. This is the second consecutive year that a Swinburne student has won this award.