Top accolade for transport team
All trains on the Sydney Train Network pass through Town Hall station, which is known in the industry as a ‘choke point’. The station’s six narrow platforms were built in the 1930s and struggle to cope with the travel demands of a burgeoning city.
It’s this problem that Institute for Sustainable Futures Research Director Dr Michelle Zeibots and her interdisciplinary team set out to resolve, and this that led them to receive the UTS Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence through Collaboration.
The UTS Responsive Passenger Information Systems Research Team, headed by Dr Zeibots, was awarded the accolade for their approach to solving the congestion of Sydney’s rail network at a ceremony on 24 October 2018.
Dr Zeibots, a strategic transport planner specialising in passenger transport, and Adjunct Professor Nathan Kirchner, a mechatronics engineer, identified the problems with Town Hall station back in 2011. Combining their skills and insights, the two began collaborating through an ARC Linkage Grant that eventually led to the creation of a new class of rail operating technology now called .
RPI Systems use robotic sensor and digital information technologies to inform, influence and coordinate user behaviour. A communications feedback loop is created between public transport customers and operators which results in an enhanced travel experience for customers and improved operations and network performance.
In support of the award application, Susannah Le Bron, former Executive Director, Customer Service at Sydney Trains, said the project had been a game changer for Sydney Trains.
“The 3D-sensor technology is extraordinary and has captured the imagination of many people at Sydney Trains. However, what has particularly impressed me is the elegant set of concepts that have been developed around customer values and leverage points to direct how the technology is used. This aspect of the collaboration has been made possible by the diversity of expertise in the UTS team,” she said.
From the outset the team recognised that collaboration was crucial to the success of the project. Around 40 UTS academic and HDR researchers across four different faculties and seven different research units worked to foster healthy and positive relationships with industry, government and one another. Contributions from all researchers and their respective disciplines were brought together using a systems thinking approach.
Seven years on, the RPI System technology is now the subject of a global patent, numerous academic research papers, and enduring, highly productive collaborative research relationships with Downer Rail and Sydney Trains.
Dr Zeibots and the UTS RPI team are now collaborating with Sydney Trains on a new set of technology pieces for Town Hall, which will work towards a new form of operating system for railways.
Pictured seated (L-R)
Dr Alen Alempijevic, Senior Lecturer, School of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, UTS
Alex Virgona, PhD student, School of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, UTS
Herve Harvard, Director of Prototyping, Rapido, UTS
Emeritus Professor Keith Crews, Associate, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UTSRodger Watson, formerly Deputy Director of Designing Out Crime Research Centre, UTS (now ThinkPlace).
James Stewart, formerly Project Manager, Sydney Trains (now Transport for NSW)
Dr Michelle Zeibots, Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS
Dr Claudine Moutou, Research Principal, Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS
Stuart Warren, Principal Delivery Manager, Rapido, UTS