Centre for Railway Engineering
The Centre for Railway Engineering (CRE) is an industry focused research centre hosted by the School of Engineering and Technology (SET) at CQUniversity located in Rockhampton.
CRE has a strong customer focus and endeavours to build robust partnerships between its researchers and the rail industry through high quality generic and commercial research, postgraduate education, innovation, development and consultancy services.
We are well known for our research expertise in train dynamics, wagon and bogie dynamics, wagon/track system dynamics, erosion control within railway corridors, simulation, instrumentation and field testing. Our physical resources include a unique laboratory that was purpose designed for full scale testing of bogies, wagons, locomotives and civil infrastructure components. These capabilities allow CRE to offer commercial research and consulting expertise in the key areas of:
- train and wagon simulation
- erosion mitigation design (rapid grass)
- heavy testing laboratory
- data acquisition services
- product development
Central Queensland University has had a strategic relationship with the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation or ACRI, since its inception in 2014. This has led to excellent opportunities to work with ACRI industry participants in applied research and engineering solutions to advance Australia’s heavy haul rail operations. ACRI links private and government sectors through collaborative research to improve the efficiency, safety, sustainability and connectivity of the Australasian rail industry. To remain relevant into the future, rail operators are looking for new products and innovations to keep their competitive edge. The adoption of electronically controlled pneumatic brakes throughout the Australian heavy haul rail networks continues to gather pace. The ACRI heavy haul participants have pre-empted the need for an innovative and cost-effective ECP end of train device. Research and development on the new end of train device was conducted by the Centre for Railway Engineering at Central Queensland University. The end of train device is mounted at the rear of the train and monitors train line continuity, termination and brake system pressures and continually transmits these values to the lead locomotive. Only one manufacturer currently produces and markets electronically controlled pneumatic end of train devices and for this, amongst other reasons, ACRI commissioned the development of a new device. The prototype development was a combination of traditional and modern design processes. Commencing with the traditional system requirements process, it progressed to a prototype unit constructed from off-the-shelf components. The new device has been successfully tested, demonstrating interoperability with a heavy haul train in the Pilbara. With the successful completion of field testing, a rapid prototype of the perceived chassis was designed and constructed using 3D printing technology, giving participants a look at the final product design. The final operational prototype device met all ACRI participant requirements and also those of the Association of American Railroads.
Flaws in the rail foot are incredibly difficult to detect and no reliable detection technique is currently available on the market. Fishplates, welds, rail clips and other rail to sleeper fasteners interfere with existing detection techniques, allowing foot flaws to grow undetected in the rail. Small cracks in the rail foot can be hidden under rail fasteners and these can develop into a broken rail over a very short period of time. Cracks in the rail foot can lead to a potential train derailment. With the aim of improving rail safety across the industry, ACRI commissioned research into new and innovative techniques to detect rail foot flaws. The exciting research being conducted at the Centre for Railway Engineering at Central Queensland University combines experiments using infrared thermography and air coupled ultrasonic transducers, with the aim of developing a reliable approach to rail foot flaw detection. The results from thermographic imaging of rails indicate that rails increase in temperature during the passage of heavy haul trains. The Centre for Railway Engineering team has installed sensors on heavy haul railway tracks to measure the temperature and bending effects of heavy trains on rails. In the lab, laser induced ultrasonic waves are being used to identify flaws in the rail foot. Ultrasonic signals are detected using air coupled transducers and the results are identified graphically on the computer screen. This research, due for completion in 2019, will inform improvements to rail infrastructure, maintenance and operational safety. ACRI continues to create value for Australasian railways from the identification, informed investigation and implementation of ideas and technologies, new to the rail industry.
Get involved in our researchThe CRE provides applied engineering research for the rail industry in areas of mechanical, civil and electrical engineering along with specific collaborations concerning safety and human factors.
Our Centre’s research strength in mechanical engineering, facilitating the continuation of both high quality publications and provision of applied capabilities to the railway industry.
The recent expansion into new areas of fatigue and wear simulation are key to involvements in product development for the Australian rail manufacturing sector. The addition of electrical engineering and electronics expertise to the Centre membership re-establishes opportunities in condition monitoring. The new CRE, reformed mid-2015 in accordance with CQUniversity’s updated “Research Institutes and Centres Principles”, retains the strengths from the previous Centre and combines these with a new emphasis on product development in collaboration with rail manufacturers. This expands the stakeholder group and also broadens the areas of engineering synergy, improving both sustainability of the Centre and appealing to a wider group of engineering academics in the School of Engineering and Technology and beyond.
Research Higher Degree students
CRE is proud to host and provide research higher degree training for postgraduate students. CRE, due to its industry environment, provides a multidisciplinary context for students and excellent opportunities to network with industry partners and rail researchers.
Scholarships are called once for year for the general CQUniversity merit rounds. In addition, projects are approved from time to time which allow stipend support of students will to study on specific railway research problems. Further information is available on our Research Scholarships page.
CRE has expertise in:
- train, locomotive and wagon dynamics
- train control and brake systems
- structural fatigue
- failure analysis
- erosion control
- driver advisory systems
- condition monitoring
- acoustics and noise engineering
- contact mechanics and tribology
- smart devices and software development
Innovation and development
Our commitment to applied research and customer focus results in involvement in projects right through to the development and pre-commercialisation stages.
Our research projects include:
- curve lubrication
- heavy haul drawgear
- future train motive power technologies
- rail grinding best practices
- locomotive adhesion
- wagon roadworthiness simulation
- train simulation studies
- longitudinal passenger comfort
- development of new condition monitoring technologies
Previous research projects included:
- intelligent train monitor
- train health advisory system
- insulated rail joints
- rail squat strategies
- short pitch rail irregularities
- track sustainability management
- cant deficiency studies
- rail temperature & track stability
- bogie rotation resistance
- rollingstock crashworthiness
- derailment simulations
CRE is a major supplier of research expertise to the national Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Programs. In addition, CRE has completed directly funded projects for Aurizon, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), the Department of Transport and Regional Services, Faiveley Transport, Pacific National, Bradken, AECOM, Calibre Global, Adani, the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB), Research Designs and Standards Organisation (Indian Railways), Queensland Government and Rail Innovation Australia.