AIC fellows in Melbourne for transport discussion
Rail was the focus of a visit to Melbourne this week by a delegation of Indonesians with an interest in transport.
They came together for a program run by the Australia-Indonesia Centre under the DFAT Australia Awards Fellowships.
The group of officials work in government departments related to transport and are learning how to integrate research findings into policy and program decision-making based on the build of the new Makassar–Parepare railway line.
On Monday the group travelled to the Monash Clayton campus to see the Institute of Railway Technology and enjoy a presentation by director Ravi Ravitharan.
Professor Ravi spoke to the group about the role of IRT and how it has contributed to research around the world across freight rail, passenger rail and light rail.
He noted the work of the IRT with freight rail in the remote Pilbara region, contributing to a sector that underpins Australia’s economic growth.
He also noted the work of IRT with passenger rail in Asia including in Surabaya in Indonesia and in Hong Kong.
Much of the discussion focused on maintenance, monitoring and dynamic testing and preventing problems rather than reacting. Professor Ravi told the group it is “better to do monitoring early, rather than retrofitting”.
The presentation also looked at sustainability in ways such as using railway sleepers made of recycled plastic as an alternative to concrete.
After the presentation, the fellows enjoyed a walking tour of the campus.
On Wednesday the fellows visited the headquarters of Melbourne’s huge infrastructure build projects – the Metro Tunnel Project – which is set to transform passenger rail in the Victorian capital.
When it opens in 2025, the Metro Tunnel will allow people to travel easily from one side of Melbourne to the other, bypassing the existing City Loop service and freeing up time and train capacity.
Rail Projects Victoria staff delivered presentations about the aims of the project and showed a video that included footage of the giant 7.2 metre-wide tunnel boring machines (TBMs), especially made in Germany.
The fellows asked a number of questions including about signalling, drainage, accessibility for people with disability and what happened with the clay left over from the tunnelling process.
Further presentations followed about the construction of new stations for the project, led by Rail Projects Victoria engineers working on the Metro Tunnel Project.
There was further discussion about high-capacity signalling and testing and commissioning, as well as questions about land acquisition and the regulatory environment.
The fellows also enjoyed a guided tour of Melbourne University led by Hemanta Doloi and Emma Eldridge from Melbourne School of Design. The tour included the Glyn Davis Building which is a large laboratory for built environment education and research.
The fellows have participated in a number of discussions held at the AIC offices at the Monash Caulfield campus led by A/Prof. Doloi.
This included one from Joshua Newman from the Monash School of Social Sciences regarding the role of research policy, program decision making and use of evidence in policy.
A/Prof. Newman described different models for the use of evidence and debates about evidence in contemporary society, before discussing how evidence-based policy can be improved.
He provided case studies for discussion, including a hypothetical airport as well as an electrical vehicle tax and the debate around charging electric vehicle owners for road use without causing a disincentive for using electric vehicles.
Feature image by PAIR.