Engineer’s rail thesis right on track

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03 Dec 2015

Australasia's railway systems could see improved safety and big cost savings as a result of a CPIT engineering lecturer's award-winning thesis. 

CPIT Department of Engineering and Architectural Studies staff member Dr Hossein Askarinejad recently won the Railway Technical Society of Australasia's 2015 postgraduate thesis award for his study on insulated rail joints or IRJs. Early failure on heavy haul tracks had been a major source of concern for rail operators due to the serious damage and high costs incurred in both Australia and New Zealand.

It's all in the joints. CPIT Structural engineering lecturer Dr Hossein Askarinejad's award winning study into improving the life and maintenance of rail joints, is gaining traction in Australasia.  

"An IRJ is a specific structural component of a track, which is similar to butt joints in steel, but on a railway track, there are some problems that are specific to that."

He was referring to the components that make up the track structure including the rails, sleepers, joints and the bed of stones, or ballast that the track lies on.

Askarinejad, 33, moved to Christchurch six months ago to take up a lecturing position at CPIT where he is sharing his knowledge of civil and structural engineering with students and industry.

Originally from Iran, Askarinejad carried out his thesis in Australia while doing his PhD at Central Queensland University. An extensive field test was conducted on a heavy haul rail route with the specific aim of understanding the structural behaviour and failure of track joints. From his results data, benefits were identified for developing better practices around the structural design, monitoring and maintenance of joints to minimise failure. 

Railway Technical Society of Australasia, RTSA chairman Simon Wood, who presented Askarinejad with his award recently, said the rail joint thesis was considered by the judges to be a valuable piece of work and well worthy of this year's prize, which included a $10,000 cash prize and one year free RTSA membership. This organisation is affiliated to the New Zealand engineering institute IPENZ and Engineers Australia.

For more information about the RTSA and the awards check out