rail track

Moving ahead with a career in rail track: From interest to specialist

A new qualification is plugging a skills gap in rail track engineering and for recent graduate, Jessica Fallico, turning an interest into a career specialisation.

The Diploma of Engineering Infrastructure (Rail) is transforming the rail industry by providing an accessible, holistic qualification for engineers and technicians.

Over several years, leaders in the NSW rail industry identified a skills gap in foundational rail track engineering. Although longer-term employees had skills built over time, there was no formal industry-specific qualification. Engineers couldn’t deepen their expertise or validate their existing skills.

The Diploma was created with the single intent to fill this gap. Graduates understand the ‘big picture’ of rail track infrastructure, from a strong foundation of skills.

For recent graduate, Jessica Fallico, this meant turning a career interest into a specialisation and a promotion. Here’s what Fallico found to be most beneficial for her career.

Understanding how theory translates to track
As a civil engineer working for Sydney Trains, Fallico recognised that she needed to know more about rail track engineering. Over the course of the Diploma, this all changed as Fallico learned the foundations of track structure interactions.

“The Diploma gave me a great overview of track components, train and track interactions, design and construction, defects, maintenance and operations.”

Fallico reflected, “It felt good when something I’d studied would happen on track in the ‘real world’. I could understand and resolve it competently, applying my deeper knowledge.”

Building confidence for career advancement
Sometimes, a little extra knowledge is what you need to gain an edge and move ahead to senior roles.

“Even though I was a qualified civil engineer, I wanted to understand how track structure interacts in the rail environment. I strongly believe that the knowledge and skills I’ve learnt have made me more capable and confident to perform my role.”

After completing the Diploma, Fallico was promoted to a Senior Track Engineer role with Sydney Trains. The move was smoother because of her wider understanding of all aspects of track assets and infrastructure. Today, Fallico applies her Diploma learnings daily in maintenance and defect management.

Learning straight from industry experts
Fallico says the teaching featured industry veterans who brought knowledge to life.

“I was amazed with the wealth of experience and extensive knowledge provided through the Diploma. Teachers shared their experiences and reviewed tough incidents that they had dealt with over the length of their careers.

“Because of this experience, assignments involved practical exercises like creating train timetables, planning construction projects, prioritising defects or managing and identifying repairs.”

Flexible study
The Diploma’s structure allows for study to fit around full-time roles, with flexible content and assignments. There’s time for conversation and clarification during the workshops, and live webinars happen in lunch hours. Fallico didn’t miss content, even when she couldn’t be there in person.

“All course contents and assignments were easily accessible online, allowing people to work at their own pace. We were also able to contact the course lecturers online if we had any issues or questions.”

Fallico encourages any track engineering team members to study the Diploma.

“Anyone who is enthusiastic about extending their career in rail track should study the Diploma. It develops an unparalleled understanding of how the whole track structure interacts with all its moving parts.

“You can study this qualification without a major impact on your work commitments. Learning while working helps you apply new knowledge and put it to work immediately.”

The Diploma of Engineering Infrastructure (Rail) is now open for enrolments in 2021. Backed by Engineering Education Australia and Transport for NSW, the nationally-accredited qualification is delivered by the University of Tasmania. Learn more >


Thermal cameras used to detect COVID-19 among rail staff in UK

Rail networks and operators are turning to new technology such as thermal cameras to help manage the threat of COVID-19 to staff and the network.

In the UK, Network Rail has turned to technology provider Thales to install thermal cameras at critical staffing locations to detect symptoms of COVID-19.

The technology has been deployed to over 100 sites across Britain as a safety measure and to ensure business continuity.

A key symptom of COVID-19 is body temperature, so detecting elevated temperatures enables Network Rail to prevent the spread of the virus within the workforce.

David Taylor, Network Rail account manager at Thales said that the technology had to be rolled out quickly due to the significance of the situation.

“Following an initial tender request from Network Rail’s Research & Development Portfolio, the Thales team quickly rolled into action. From the issue of the request for the proposal and submission of a response, to Network Rail’s evaluation of the various offers and completion of a trial, the whole process was complete within less than two weeks,” Taylor said.

“In a normal environment this would have taken months.”

The readings from the thermal imaging camera are shown to the individual to encourage appropriate action. Up to 30 people can be measured simultaneously to a reading within +/- 0.3 °C.

An initial single trial location was quickly expanded to two to build user confidence and both trials were set up within three days of the project going ahead. Buy-in was also demonstrated with the expanded project scope, which grew from 80 cameras to 118 systems in 10 weeks.

Dubai has also rolled out the use of thermal cameras to reduce the threat of COVID-19 on the city’s metro system. The Dubai Transport Security Department will also introduce facial recognition software to bolster security, ahead of the city hosting Expo 2020, delayed to October 2021.


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