Vic govt rejects innovation that could cut billions in railway crossing costs

Vic govt rejects innovation that could cut billions in railway crossing costs

Dr William Guzman claims innovation can reduce road traffic congestion by 50-70 per cent

The Victorian government has rejected an idea that could potentially save it billions of dollars in railway infrastructure costs.

Dr William Guzman, a researcher from RMIT University who built a Departure Side Platform (DSP) for optimising railway crossings using simulation software, told CIO Australia that the government rejected his idea to place city-bound or arrival platforms on the other side of level crossings, where the arrival and departure platforms are diagonal to each other instead of face to face. He said this can reduce road traffic congestion at railway crossings by 50-70 per cent.

The Victorian government is trying to lease the Port of Melbourne to raise money to for various projects including upgrading 50 problematic railway crossings. Guzman has calculated that the $160 million on average it costs for a 'full-blown grade separation' could be reduced to $1 million per crossing with DPS.

Guzman started his research about seven years ago, recently obtaining his PhD. During 2009-2015, he reached out to the Victorian government, including VicRoads, to propose his idea on how to make substantial infrastructure savings.

Guzman told CIO Australia he reached out to many government officials on his proposal. In a letter to Guzman, former Labor minister, Lynne Kosky, said it was “narrowly focused”, with others not taking it further.

“[While studying for] my master’s degree, I found moving one platform to the other side of the station would reduce road congestion by 50 per cent,” Guzman said.

“I went to the transport department and VicRoads to say ‘look what I have found’, but they slammed the door in my face. They said you would not know what you are talking about.

“So then I did a PhD, and spent five and a half years on it just to see if I was wrong. I thought maybe I was, but I wasn’t.”

Guzman’s research was examined by professors of civil engineering at North Carolina State University and Queensland University.

“You test the systems to make sure [they are] robust. Once all of that is done, then you start measuring the traffic flow,” he said.

Late last year, Guzman received a best paper award for his research paper at the University of Melbourne and an excellence award at RMIT University.

He said he wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other federal and state members of parliament in December 2015. He received a reply from the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet indicating it has been passed onto the Minister of Transport, Jacinta Allan.

“I sent a letter to the Prime Minister because he is talking about $1.1 billion in innovation. So here’s a proposition for innovation; put your money where your mouth is. It seems the [Victorian] government is spewing because I am coming up with ideas and they are not coming up with ideas.

“Do you know who financed this? Me. For the last seven years I’ve been doing only this and full time. And the government doesn’t want to know about it,” Guzman said.

VicRoads has been contacted for comment, but was unable to respond at the time of publication. The Victorian Department of Transport has also been contacted for comment.

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Tags optimisationresearchRMIT Universitytransport optimisation

More about AustraliaDepartment of Premier and CabinetDepartment of TransportRMITRMIT UniversityTransportUniversity of Melbourne

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