Australia’s top rail services, projects recognised

Queensland’s railway operator has claimed a national award for excellence in passenger operations for its efforts to restore services after severe flooding, while the Parramatta light rail project was recognised in the infrastructure category.

Caroline Wilkie

They were among the winners at the Australasian Rail Industry Awards in Melbourne last week.

The awards celebrate achievements in customer experience, safety, efficiency and sustainability across the rail sector.

Services restored after floods

Many  South East Queensland communities were left isolated and cut off by flooding between February 24 and May 4, with some areas recording more than 400 millimetres of rain over three days.

In response, Queensland Rail mobilised more than 600 network maintenance employees to repair enough of the network to operate services on every line again in just three days, and achieved almost a full restoration of services and freight network access within 16 days, the judges said.

 “Importantly, Queensland Rail’s customers, community members and employees were engaged at every step of the recovery and restoration process,” they said.

Mobile boarding assistance

Sydney’s metropolitan rail operator got a gong for its mobile boarding assistance app, with Sydney trains taking home the award for customer service excellence .

The app, used by more than 1500 station employees, draws on real time data to alert them when a passenger requires boarding assistance as a train approaches. It also provides information on station accessibility, lift availability, station attendance, passenger loads and arrival notifications.

“This means Sydney Trains can be more responsive to customer needs and can identify opportunities to further enhance services for customers with mobility issues,” the judges said.

Sydney rail also won rail innovation of the year for its asset management system,  which supports investment decisions, life cycle management and maintenance planning, while stage one of the Parramatta light rail took out the Infrastructure Project excellence award.

Judges described the Parramatta Connect as a sustainable city-shaping project that managed to minimise community disruption and would meet the long term needs of the Parramatta community.

A future Parramatta Light Rail stop near Westmead (image: TfNSW)

Trauma support

Meanwhile, Metro trains Melbourne won the Wellbeing in Rail award for its driver trauma recovery guidebook which was developed to support workers involved at the scene of a rail incident.

The guide outlines what the driver can expect from the point of the incident to their return to work and includes information on support services available to them. It has been issued to every qualified and trainee driver on the Metro Trains Melbourne network and has been shared across the industry.

Technology improving customer experience

Australasian Railway Association CEO Caroline Wilke said this year’s winners demonstrated how technology, including the use of real time data, could improve customer experience.

“It is exciting to see the range of ways technology is transforming our industry and making a real difference to how people interact with the rail network,” Ms Wilkie said in a statement.

“This is leading to tangible improvements to safety, efficiency and the customer experience.”

The Awards are supported by the Australasian Railway Association, Institution of Railway Signal Engineers, Railway Technical Society of Australia, Rail Track Association Australia, the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board and the Permanent Way Institution (NSW).

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