CQUniversity researcher Dr Qing Wu has received an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award to help understand issues around track buckling, train derailments and train-track dynamics. Picture: Contributed
CQUniversity researcher Dr Qing Wu has received an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award to help understand issues around track buckling, train derailments and train-track dynamics. Picture: Contributed

Research on track to help prevent railway accidents

A CQUNIVERSITY researcher has received a $407,679 grant to help understand issues around track buckling, train derailments and train-track interactions.

Dr Qing Wu was the recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher award.

The grant will be used over the next three years in conjunction with CQUniversity funding of up to $760,510, to help Dr Wu and his PhD student develop a supercomputing method which would show large-scale 3D train-track interaction for railway trains of up to 250 vehicles.

Dr Wu, who is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Railway Engineering in North Rockhampton, said he loved taking on challenging research topics.

"Modelling in this project is very challenging and covers the whole railway system from bottom to top, it considers ballasts, sleepers, rails, wheel-rail contact, vehicle suspension, and countless other elements," he said.

"Most railways use Continuous Welded Rail which minimises the number of joint gaps by welding.

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"This allows for rail sections into one continuous rail that can be several kilometres long.

"During hot weather, steel rails expand, but the continuous feature leaves no gaps in the longitudinal direction for the expanding rails. This causes the track to buckle laterally which can have drastic results and often cause train derailment."

Given Australia's rising temperature over recent years, he said reducing Australia's high risk of track buckling was of growing importance.

"Years 2018 and 2019 were the hottest years in Australia, with record-high temperatures recorded at 87 locations across all states and territories" he said.

"The hot weather profoundly impacts rail transport and track buckling is regarded as a big concern. Multiple railway derailments caused by track buckling have been reported around Australia.

"We hope our research outcomes will provide significant benefits to the rail industry including enhanced rail safety, lower maintenance costs and improved transport efficiency."


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