Researchers at the University of Wollongong and their industry partners have been awarded Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for a project that aims to increase the productivity and reduce the maintenance costs of Australia’s rail network.

The project, led by Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna from UOW’s School of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering, received a $675,000 grant, the largest of any of the four successful applications. When combined with funding from the project’s industry partners (Infra Tech, Australasian Centre For Rail Innovation, Geoharbour Group, Coffey Geotechnics, and SMEC Australia) this takes the total funding for the project to almost $1million.

Professor Indraratna is one of Australia’s foremost experts on railway infrastructure and the Foundation Director of the Centre for Geomechanics and Railway Engineering, the country’s first track research centre, established two decades ago. His team will examine the factors that cause “mud pumping” on rail lines and evaluate the effectiveness of drainage to prevent the problem.

Mud pumping occurs particularly in areas where the ground is waterlogged, and causes millions of dollars damage to Australia’s rail network every year. Fast, heavy haul trains – typically those used in mining and agriculture – can cause track depressions and mud holes, increasing the risk of derailment at certain speeds.

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