Investigating Rail Tolerances and Design Future Urban Rail Systems

Location: Canberra, ACT

Duration: 6 months

Proposed start date: September

Project Background

Approval was granted by the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) and the National Capital Authority (NCA) (a Commonwealth agency) for the construction of Stage 1 of a light rail network in Canberra, ACT, from Gungahlin Town Centre to the City including stops, depot, substations, landscaping and other site works (the Project).

Stage 1 is a 12 kilometre (km) light rail alignment following Hibberson Street, Flemington Road, the Federal Highway and Northbourne Avenue, and is now the primary transport corridor connecting Canberra’s growing northern suburbs with the City and the south.

The proponent of the Project is Canberra Metro (CM), a consortium comprising of Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors, John Holland, Mitsubishi Corporation, Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments, Deutsche Bahn International and CAF. The light rail network is operated and maintained by CMET a JV sub group of the parent Canberra metro consortium.

The light rail project has been developed to:

  • Increase overall levels of transportation service for the people of Canberra, facilitating a shift to public transport consistent with ACT Government policy.
  • Provide sustainable urban development and revitalisation along the proposed rail corridor, with employment, economic and social benefits for the people of Canberra.

CMO have exceeded the cumulatives tolerances within the system of Stage 1. This project will be looking at rectifying the exceedance and looking at how to design this into future works. The second objective is creating a new type of standard for these type of urban rail systems.

Research to be Conducted

  • Develop a new standard for rail tolerances and rail / wheel interface in urban rail systems of a similar type to CMO, based on international experience and common practice in European light rail systems;
  • Define the interface between rail tolerances and what those cumulative values look like;
  • Better inform design on how to manage interface between different types of rail infrastructure;
  • Provide a retrospective safety in design evaluation of compound rail tolerance interface between different rail infrastructure;

CMO as an Organisation has an understanding of the broader issue at play but no capabilities in the specifics. The intern will be able to utilise existing connections with ARTC, the technical regulator, and design teams (AECOM).

Skills Required

We are looking for a PhD student with the following:


  • Bachelor Engineering (Mechanical)


  • Strong inter-personal skills, dynamic, flexible and a self-starter
  • Strong communication skills to present to Board and Directors/ Managers

Expected Outcomes

The intern will be expected to create a national standard and report;
It is expected that the report will focus on how the different tolerances can be viewed in tandem to prevent exceedances and how to forecast future works to manage tolerances so the compound effects of tolerance management gives a better quality and safety outcome. Define what this looked like and define if the interface effect is positive or negative.

CPB, CIMIC an JHG are all international companies and have strong European ties. This project will be an Australian first therefore and creating value add opportunities for private business, research to advance the wider industry and create a new standard of best practice. This research and project outcomes are intended to develop new high value standards that can be used to offset overseas projects and to broaden current business undertakings.

Additional Details

The intern will receive $3,000 per month of the internship, usually in the form of stipend payments.

It is expected that the intern will primarily undertake this research project during regular business hours, spending at least 80% of their time on-site with the industry partner.  The intern will be expected to maintain contact with their academic mentor throughout the internship either through face-to-face or phone meetings as appropriate.

The intern and their academic mentor will have the opportunity to negotiate the project’s scope, milestones and timeline during the project planning stage.

Applications Close

28 August 2019


APR – 1027