Coveted awards for rail researchers

Researchers from the Institute of Railway Technology (IRT) have taken out two prestigious awards for their research on rail weld fatigue and fracture in railway tracks supporting high axle loads.

Dr Iman Salehi is the recipient of the 2013 Postgraduate Thesis Award from the Railway Technical Society of Australasia (RTSA) for his PhD thesis "Fatigue and Fracture Behaviour of Aluminothermic Rail Welds under High Axle Load Conditions". Dr Salehi will receive $10,000, a commemorative plaque and a one-year free membership of the RTSA at a ceremony in June 2013.

Dr Salehi was also awarded, with the IRT's Mr Peter Mutton and Professor Ajay Kapoor of Swinburne University of Technology, the 2013 Sir George Julius Medal, awarded by the College of Mechanical Engineers Board of Engineers Australia in a unanimous decision. The researchers will receive their medal at an awards ceremony in Melbourne later this month for their outstanding paper on "Multi-axial Fatigue Analysis of Aluminothermic Rail Welds under High Axle Load Conditions".

Director of IRT, Ravi Ravitharan, said the awards were an indication of the expertise of the institute's researchers in railway technology, especially within the heavy haul sector.

"For more than 40 years, we have provided innovative solutions to the mining industry which is reliant on rail to transport its iron ore for export," Mr Ravitharan said.

"These are two coveted awards and to have taken out both in the same year highlights the quality of the research we are conducting which will be immediately applied to the benefit of our clients.

"Aluminothermic welding is one of the critical aspects for the heavy haul railways, with more than 50 per cent of broken rails attributed to this type of welds. This disrupts critical traffic and can contribute to catastrophic derailments. Our research will help improve aluminothermic welding processes to overcome the effect of axle loads in excess of 35 tonnes."