AUSRAIL Plus 2003 at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre from November 17 to 19 will be the first time that the members’ forum of the Australasian Railway Association joins forces with the Rail Track Association of Australia, the Australian Railway Industry Corp, the Railway Technical Society of Australasia and the Institute of Railway Signal Engineers to organise a united conference and exhibition.

Completion of the long-dreamed-of Alice Springs - Darwin line makes this an exciting time for the Australian rail industry, and infrastructure, technology and political issues will dominate the AusRAIL conference programme. Up to 100 companies will be attending the exhibition, showcasing their latest products, services and technology (below). On a lighter note, there will be a ’State of Origin’ tracklaying contest.

Rail Track Association of Australia President Bill Killinger, who is Director & General Manager, Rail, for Barclay Mowlem Construction, will introduce 16 conference sessions backed by the RTAA.

The latest track condition monitoring technology will be described by Firdausi Irani, Executive Director of the USA’s Transportation Technology Center Inc. BHP Billiton’s experiences of track condition assessment will be presented by Mike Darby, with contributions from researchers at Monash University, and virtual track surveying is the chosen topic of Paul Furniss of Omnicom Engineering.

Don Challis of the Western Australia Department for Planning & Infrastructure will focus on cost-benefit analysis and community consultation for the Kalgoorlie rail realignment, and Richard Harris of Halcrow Pacific will present approaches to building railway tunnels in urban areas.

Rail Track Association of Australia Vice-President and director of Bull Head Services David Bull will chair the second session. The line up of speakers includes Roger Tracy of US company ImageMap, Rainer Wenty of Plasser & Theurer and Wolfgang Schoech from Speno International.

Martin Thomason will discuss Port of Melbourne Corp’s intermodal strategies, while the costs of major track upgrades will receive the attention of Philip Laird and Gabriella Adorni-Braccesi from the University of Wollongong and Max Michell of Samron. The RTAA’s events will finish by presenting case studies on railway embankment improvement schemes around the world.

The Institute of Railway Signal Engineers conference will begin with a panel presentation on radio systems. Communications-based signalling and automatic train protection will be discussed in papers from Invensys Rail Systems UK, Siemens Transportation, Alstom France and ARTC. The Sydenham Train Control Centre, the Chatswood - Epping rail link, and NSW country train control will be described in detail.

Presentations from the Railway Technical Society of Australasia will include a paper from Bradken Rail on efficient wagon design and an EDI Rail paper on transport accessibility. Graham Holden of Halcrow Pacific plans to provoke questions about train building.

Export organisation Australian Railway Industry Corp is co-ordinating the papers presented on November 18. Alstom General Manager Phil Terry will discuss the role that Australia can play as a base for exporting to the world, while Michael Harrison, partner of law firm Clayton Utz will emphasise the importance of forming alliances. Brian Luber of Siemens and Tibor Minarovic of Barclay Mowlem Hong Kong will present case studies on entering global supply chains through joint ventures and partnerships.

International groups from Singapore and Saudi Arabia will talk of the major projects scheduled in their regions. Singapore is participating in the landbridge project to create and upgrade rail links with other east Asian cities, while the backers of the major new lines proposed for Saudi Arabia will find Australia’s experience of heavy haul technology of interest.

CAPTION: South Australia’s Premier Mike Rann and Northern Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin participated in the ’last weld’ ceremony at Alice Springs onSeptember 18 to mark the connection of the 1 420 km line to Darwin with the rest of the Australian standard-gauge network

Photo:AustralAsia Railway Corp