Staff Writer

Webinar: Change the way you perform bridge modelling, analysis and design

Major road and rail projects continue to dominate infrastructure investments across Australia and New Zealand as the population continues to grow. A critical part of such projects is the design and construction of bridges.

Bentley Systems has engaged directly with bridge engineers, designers, and modelers across Australia and New Zealand and listened as they described in detail their biggest challenge facing them today – a dedicated bridge solution with an ability to efficiently and effectively integrate and interoperate within a digital engineering workflow.

Others have developed and deployed solutions attached to convoluted workflows built around non-bridge specific technology. Many of these approaches still struggle to meet the needs and address the productivity challenges of bridge professionals, especially when it comes to adapting to frequent project changes.

At this webinar you will learn:

• How to rapidly create bridge projects by integrating multiple disciplines data within a single bridge solution, Bentley’s OpenBridge;

• How to improve project deliverables and achieve a continuous flow of information from survey through construction;

• How to automate plans production from the 3D physical model, and avoid repetitive work to accommodate project changes.

To download and watch the webinar please fill out the form below:

If you’d like more information about OpenBridge, please contact Mike Mahdavi:

The dangers of going dark: Why a strong marketing presence now is key to increasing market share post-COVID-19

Prime Creative Media continues its Engine Room series, offering complimentary resources to companies to help navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

John Murphy, CEO Prime Creative Media, offers this guide on the dangers of ‘going dark’ in times of crisis, and how to drive a strategy to maintain or even increase market share as the economy recovers.

Computing around artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles for the rail industry

There have been significant advances in the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous vehicles in industry, with segments such as the mining sector pioneering the implementation of this technology – including autonomous trains – in Australia. Driving these developments is the computing systems that enable autonomous platforms and AI to operate effectively and securely. This white paper discusses the technology in context of its global growth and Australian adoption. It provides insights into the features that enable the success of in-vehicle computing systems in harsh environments, along with examples of why and how these systems are best suited to industrial rail applications.

Read more:

Sentinel Safety

Sentinel Safety brings the latest AI technology to protect pedestrians in the rail industry

The risk of injury and near misses for workers around mobile plant and machinery is always a concern during the construction and maintenance of railways where separation of people and plant is not possible. To date, most hazard prevention technologies involve a tag-based system or administrative controls which are not always the most comprehensive solution to the dynamic rail maintenance and construction environment.

Developed over three years by an in-house team of Brisbane-based engineers, PRM Engineering Services have produced the Sentinel Vision A.I. pedestrian detection system, for the specific safety requirements of the rail industry. The system uses the latest in artificial intelligence and pedestrian recognition to detect when a pedestrian is in a machine’s blind spots or enters hazardous zones near mobile machinery, warning both the operator and the pedestrian.

Working in real-time, the Sentinel Vision A.I. system incorporates multiple cameras, that are mounted to mobile machines such as wheel loaders, excavators, and on-track vehicles with as many or as few cameras installed as needed to cover blind spots and assist the operator in identifying people around the machine. Sentinel Vision A.I. is the first pedestrian detection system to alert both the operator and pedestrian. This innovation has been found to cause long-term behavioural change in pedestrians working around mobile plant and machinery. Sentinel Vision A.I. uses a unique voice alarm system to ‘talk’ to the pedestrian, cutting through the beeps and buzzes that that workers hear on sites every day.

The system has been trialled by several top tier rail authorities with positive results and many have reported that when people are alerted by the voice alarm, behavioural change and greater awareness of risky behaviour around mobile plant is achieved. Ideally, over time, Sentinel Vision A.I. will be activated less as people have learnt not to walk in front or behind active vehicles, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

The system takes images from the detection cameras and then processes the information through an A.I. neural network to determine if there is anything that looks like a person, or part of a person, and if there is, it triggers internal and external alarms. Detection zones are customisable and determined with an easy to use drag and drop interface, and an additional option of pre-warning zones.  The system has been trialled and used in a range of different operating environments and environmental conditions with positive feedback.

Sentinel Vision A.I. is one of a number of innovative products developed by PRM Engineering Services. Part of the PRM Group of companies, which has been providing safety systems and equipment to the rail industry for over 20 years, PRM Engineering Services designs bespoke safety and control systems that meet the unique needs of operators. Through our partnerships and experience gained in the rail and heavy machinery industries, PRM Engineering Services’ range of Sentinel Safety systems were developed to meet the changing safety and risk management requirements of rail authorities.

The Sentinel Safety range also includes several Height and Slew limiters used throughout the rail and construction industries to allow safe operation around powerlines and within confined spaces. The Sentinel Height and Slew limiters have been used by rail authorities Australia wide for a several years and can be retrofitted to any machine with articulated booms.

Based on this experience PRM has also recently released additional optional features including HV detection and RFID for attachment recognition. By combining the functionality of our widely used Sentinel Height and Slew limiters with a patented Sentinel HV Aerial Module, the system can ensure safe operation around powerlines from the moment the machine is turned on. The system prevents the machine moving within the exclusion zone around powerlines and motion-cut valving prevents the machine from moving closer while allowing the operator to direct the machine away from the electricity source.

The Sentinel Height and Slew limiters are perfect for the safe operation of excavators, loaders, skid steers and backhoes when working under overhead powerlines, in and around bridges and inside tunnels and can be installed on new and old machines alike. The Sentinel Height and Slew limiters also have are range of rail specific systems to the meet the machine safety requirements of multiple rail authorities and councils.

PRM Engineering Services are passionate about safety and have a long-standing heritage of safety system design and installation since 2002. With experience in the rail and earthmoving industries, PRM Engineering Services have become integrators and developers of a number of unique safety and control systems that meet customer requirements. These projects have ranged in scope from customisations of height or slew systems through to full redesign of control systems for on-track rail vehicles. Along with our team of talented engineers, the PRM Group of companies can also assist with the installation or modification of electrical, hydraulic, and control systems for heavy machinery, enabling PRM Engineering Services to offer end-to end innovative and customised solutions to our wide range of customers.

Find out more at:

Pacific National

Pacific National ramps up mental health peer support

Pacific National has today announced it will be increasing the size and scope of its mental health support for employees.

With more than 3,500 employees and terminals, depots and sites across Australia, Pacific National has been running a peer support program for a number of years. The organisation has been working on re-invigorating the initiative since late last year.

Chief people officer for Pacific National, Heidi Beck says their Peer Connect program ensures that important conversations about people’s mental health happen every day, not only on Rail R U OK?Day.

“Our program is somewhat unique in that it has been ongoing for some time, but it is very much led and driven by our employees and, increasing the size of the program was something that was requested by employees.

“Our Peer Connect program is aimed at raising mental health awareness and building a peer to peer support network every day. Our Peer Connect Champions are a point of contact for employees needing support,” she said.

To mark Rail R U OK?Day, the company has more than doubled the pool of peer support champions so that employees will have an identified peer to speak to if they need to have a confidential chat, either in person or via email, to one of their colleagues within the business about any difficulties they are facing.

“Every one of our Peer Support Champions will undergo the TrackSAFE Mental Health First Aid training in person and we will be looking to start this as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.

“In the meantime, our new Peer Support Champions will receive in-house training and resources so they can start to prepare themselves for their new roles,” explains Beck.

During the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, check-in conversations with each other and openly talking about our state of mind have become a crucial way of life for all.

The training program itself is specifically designed for the rail industry and focused on the issues those working within the rail industry may face. It has been developed by Mental Health First Aid Australia and is facilitated by TrackSAFE.

“I have completed the program myself and it reminded me that while people may seem stoic on the outside, underneath they might be very stressed and a trigger can bring on high levels of anxiety in any of us,” says Beck.

Showcasing hero clients to promote your business

Prime Creative Media offers this advice on how to use case studies in a B2B marketing strategy.

In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, print and digital marketing has never been more important in driving sales. Prime Creative Media continues its Engine Room series, offering this advice on how to best use case studies in a B2B marketing campaign.

Case studies are the ideal way to explain how your products or services work and the positive impact they can have on a business, by having your clients do the talking for you. It’s that all important social proof, showing prospects that working with you could improve their business too. It’s a win-win because it also gives your clients exposure.

In our experience, working with thousands of companies in Australia, case studies should form a key component of any B2B marketing strategy.

Download the complimentary guide below on the four steps to creating a successful case study.

How to get the most out of digital marketing during COVID-19

Zelda Tupicoff, COO, Prime Creative Media, outlines the two key drivers marketers should focus on in aligning their digital strategy in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

It’s not uncommon for B2B companies to rely heavily on in-person meetings and trade events in their sales process. Not many people buying industrial equipment, commercial vehicles, or medical devices will do a quick Google search and click ‘add to cart’ when spending tens of thousands of dollars on these high-value items.

The journey starts months, and even years, before the purchase. Your future clients have read about you in trade media, built up brand recognition overtime, informed themselves about what’s in the market. None of this has changed in the COVID-19 crisis, so it’s important not to abandon the long-term marketing strategy that takes into account the full buyer journey.

What has changed is the direct lead generation done in person at meetings and trade events. Sales teams find themselves at a loss without being able to get out there and find leads. It’s this part of the sales process where you should now be directing your digital marketing efforts. Forget about traditional trackers like click rates, overall traffic, and impressions. These do little to help your sales team right now. Instead, direct your efforts into generating quality leads.

In working with hundreds of B2B companies, our clients have found the most success in generating leads when they focus on these two drivers.

Driver number one – quality traffic
Many companies marketing high value products and services make the mistake of investing too heavily in Google Ads and search engine optimisation (SEO), assuming that the more traffic there is to a website, the more sales they will make. The challenge is, there is no guarantee that the traffic will be of quality and will lead to sales. Even the most carefully thought out search words don’t assess whether a person is a real decision maker, if they are in a relevant industry, and if they are ready to purchase. It’s also an expensive exercise, with the most popular search terms attracting the highest price, and that price only ever goes up as those terms get more traffic.

You can achieve better results by purchasing some traffic in partnership with a reputable industry resource of engaged readers. This can look like: promoting your websites and whitepapers as digital display ads, direct solus EDM mailouts, sponsored content, and links on articles which can provide ongoing SEO. You should pick a publication that has the same readership as your ideal client. The quality of leads for your sales team is more important than the volume when you want to convert those leads to sales.

You can achieve even better results by combining a qualified audience with an investment in quality content that drives organic traffic. By providing decision makers with high quality, targeted resources, you have a much better chance of attracting the right people to your site. If you’re selling conveyor belts, work with a quality content marketing writer offering tips on how to choose the right conveyor belt. The only people that will read the content are those who are looking to purchase. Even if the article only attracts a fraction of the traffic that it would from purchasing the words “conveyor belt” on Google, it’ll lead to many more qualified leads. Importantly, at a time when we’re all looking closely at cutting costs, it’s a one-off investment that will keep delivering.

Driver number two: quality data collection/lead generation
Once you get people to your site, it’s imperative that you collect the data of who is visiting. Don’t rely on contact us forms, or simply having your phone number and email displayed everywhere, unless your strategy is for your sales team to wait for incoming calls and emails. If your sales team is to make outgoing calls and emails, you need to give them a list of qualified leads.

To do this, you need to use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that can integrate with an online form to capture the data of people visiting your website, including their emails and phone numbers. Because people are reluctant to give them up, you need to give them a reason, with a piece of gated content. It could be a special offer, an informational video, a guide to purchasing, or a technical whitepaper. Ensure that what you offer is of value by working with a specialist trade journalist or content marketing expert. You’ll immediately lose trust if you don’t come through with a quality piece. Also, by offering quality content, when your sales team goes to make outgoing calls, the prospective lead will already have had a good experience with your company.

Download this complimentary guide on the traffic and lead generating tools Prime Creative Media have to offer.

Wearing a commitment to safety

In its column, the RTAA outlines its current initiatives in rail track innovation and safety.

Welcome to 2020! Last year ended on a high note with the AusRAIL Plus Conference and Exhibition in Sydney attracting over 7,500 visitors and delegates. The RTAA held its own technical stream as part of the AusRail program with a strong line up of excellent presentations on track construction and operation, asset maintenance, turnout, safety, and rail head management.

The RTAA Yellow Tie Dinner was the highlight of the conference with a record attendance of over 1,350 guests. A new addition this year was the silent auction of the RTAA One Less Dress. This one-of-a-kind dress was made by Erika Barnes from over 50 yellow silk ties for the rail safety cause with proceeds from the auction donated directly to the TrackSAFE Foundation. Gary Davey of JMD Railtech Group provided the winning bid.

The One Less Dress was officially unveiled at JMDR’s Sydney Office on 13 February 2020.

The new decade promises to be a big one for the Australian rail industry. This year the RTAA has returned with new vigour and enthusiasm for the year ahead and is focused on working collaboratively with public and private entities as well as other technical societies to make rail more inclusive for everyone, grow our national footprint, promote knowledge sharing, foster collaboration, and be sustainable.

To support this focus, we have elected a new and diverse leadership team comprised of amazing men and women working in rail

  • Thomas Kerr – president
  • Jonathan Barnes – vice president
  • Orla O’Sullivan – vice president
  • Kieran Navin – treasurer
  • Abbie Thomas – secretary
  • Laurena Basutu – marketing manager

We’ve planned some great events and initiatives for this year.

Nominations for the Emerging Rail Specialist Award are now open. This award has evolved from the Frank Franklyn Young Rail Specialist Award, which was first established in 2008 in honour of the great Francis Gustave Franklyn who passed that year. Francis was the chief civil engineer in NSW for eight years through the 1980s, was the RTAA vice president, and is an Honorary Life Member of the RTAA. The new award has developed out of a need to be more modern and relevant to today’s audience and environment. It recognises and encourages the contribution of emerging rail specialists in the early stages of their career within the rail industry and attempts to be more inclusive by not making age a limiting factor. The winner of the Emerging Rail Specialist Award will be presented at the Australasian Rail Industry Awards (ARIA) on 19 November 2020 in Melbourne.

For more information on RTAA activities, events and initiatives in 2020 contact: or follow the RTAA on social media Twitter: @RailTAA , LinkedIn: @Rail Track Association Australia – RTAA and Facebook: @RailTAA.

Thales ensuring capability and safety

Thales is committed to the continued delivery of capability to our customers while minimising any risk to the safety of our employees and the broader community.

In early March, Thales implemented social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures across all of our sites. At production facilities a number of measures were implemented including: staggered shifts, staggered breaks, closure of canteen facilities, expanded break rooms, increased hand washing and the cleaning of rooms between use. Concurrently all non-production staff moved to ‘work from home’. All sites have also identified and secured a bio-cleaning company for deep cleaning as necessary.

We are closely monitoring impacts on our supply chain, actively seeking advice from key suppliers to ensure we have the ability to mitigate any potential impacts. Thales takes seriously our responsibility to maintain employment and supply chains through the current crisis and have taken a number of steps to assist our partners as the situation has evolved.

Hybrid polymer sleeper solution for bridges, viaducts, tunnels, switches and mainlines

The increasing scarcity of hardwood and the ban on creosote-treatment of timber sleepers has resulted in their reduced availability and lifespan. The replacement of timber sleepers with stiffer or weaker materials creates new track stability problems. Lankhorst developed its KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper to mimic the dynamic behaviour of a traditional timber sleeper, with the added benefit of a design life of 50 years.

In operation since 2006, KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers consist of highly ductile recycled polymer, reinforced with steel rebar. The steel increases bending stiffness and provides elastic resilience against deformation. Reinforcement does not interfere with the installation of fastening systems and achieves longitudinal and lateral stiffness, maintaining track gauge under all load and climate conditions. The recycled polymer acts both as effective impact absorber and sound damper. KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers are now  operational in bridges, turnouts, and mainlines in 11 countries on three continents. That success recently expanded into Australasia through close teamwork between Lankhorst and regional agents Link Asia Pacific.

Steel reinforced for strength.

KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers are backed up by solid engineering and extensive laboratory testing, enabling its use in railways operating at axle loads up to 35 tonnes. Lankhorst has successfully put the sleepers through a series of tests, including static and dynamic loading, destructive testing, water absorption, electrical insulation, UV testing, slip and wear resistance, screw spike pull-out tests, flammability and more.

Whereas composite sleepers can be brittle, KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers offer better ductility and shock absorption. They offer a high bending stiffness due to their discrete steel reinforcing elements and don’t catastrophically break or tear under overload. Extreme overload bending tests confirmed this. Hybrid polymer sleepers are well-suited for strength and impact critical applications, such as on bridges, track where the ballast bed does not provide sufficient elasticity, and track subjected to very high horizontal or vertical impact forces resulting from high-speed or high axle-load traffic loading.

Compared to alternative products, KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers offer some unique benefits:

  • Maintain track stiffness, even with interspersed replacement (Dynamic stiffness comparable to that of replaced sleeper),
  • No hazardous fibre dust released during drilling; no respiratory protection equipment required,
  • Low weight, easy installation and reduced transport costs,
  • Standard equipment required during installation,
  • Machinable like timber,
  • Thermal expansion rate is six times lower than that of fibreglass – comparable to concrete and timber,
  • High strength through steel rebar reinforcement,
  • Exceptional impact dampening and noise dampening through ductile polymer,
  • Compatible with most rail fasteners used for timber sleepers,
  • 100 per cent recyclable, being made of steel and recycled polymers, and
  • Low carbon footprint, using recycled polymers.

KLP Hybrid Polymer Bridge Sleepers

Designed for offset load applications.

Bridges with offset girders benefit most from the KLP hybrid design. The steel reinforcement provides the strength required to handle the high bending moments in bridges with offset girders. In-track performance confirms the design intent: no gradual plastic deformation occurs. Extreme overload situations will not result in catastrophic (brittle) fracturing.

Unballasted bridge structures are very stiff and have limited ability to flex during cyclic loading. The high impact on structure can result in microcracking in steel-reinforced concrete structures. Here KLP Sleeper’s polymer both absorbs and spreads impact energy, lowering load levels in the bridge structure. Reduced impact also results in noise reductions: Replacing timber sleepers with KLP Hybrid Polymer Bridge Sleepers on a steel girder bridge yielded a 3-5dB noise reduction.

Girder based bridges with canted rail can utilise the KLP Hybrid Polymer Bridge Sleeper type 401. Height differences for canter can be compensated by milling up to 25mm at our factory or on location. KLP Shims between the sleeper and the base plate can compensate for minor height differences. Voestalpine, having fitted dozens of bridges with KLP Hybrid Polymer Bridge Sleepers since 2010, confirms: “no maintenance is required, performance on all bridges is satisfactory”. 

KLP Hybrid Polymer Switch & Crossing Sleepers

Switches: built on or off site.

KLP Hybrid Polymer Switch & Crossing Sleepers absorb and distribute impact better than timber and concrete. This delivers a significant benefit at crossings and turnouts, which are typically exposed to severe impact and lateral forces. Unlike concrete (where every hole must be pre-cast in the factory), KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers can be drilled throughout the full length of the sleeper onsite or prefab.

KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleepers have a low thermal expansion, resulting in a track gauge that stays within tolerance, even for longer sleepers. The KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper 200-series (length of up to 5.2m) have been optimized for the fixation of base plates with a larger rotation. The KLP Hybrid Polymer Sleeper 500-series have a connectable joint, enabling the connection of two sleepers together resulting in a maximum sleeper length of 10.4m. The KLP Hybrid Polymer 500-series can be installed with limited working space and do not require deep holes to be dug. These sleepers provide a constant bending stiffness throughout their entire length.

LEAG’s head of rail track infrastructure in Germany, Torsten Scharnetzki, adds: “The KLP Switch Sleepers were installed in 2008, handle 25 tonne axle loads and have remained within tolerance without maintenance during 12 years of accumulated exposure of more than 300 million tonnes of load passing.”

KLP Hybrid Polymer Mainline Sleepers

Handles and installs like timber.

The KLP optimised hybrid polymer mainline sleepers are profiled and therefore use up to 30 per cent less material, resulting in an even more economic product. A unique bottom profile and increased ballast (on top of the sleeper) are designed to offer the required lateral and vertical stability, even against uplift. The reduced weight allows for easier handling during installation and maintenance.

Visit us at:

Rail Solutions Asia
Stand 124
12 – 14 August 2020
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Hall 21 / Stand 310
22 – 25 September 2020
Berlin, Germany

Stand 13
1 – 2 December 2020
Adelaide, Australia