2022 Michael Bourke and Kieranpal Sidhu

Railway Engineering Student Thesis Award 2022


Joint winners

Michael Bourke

Thesis: The White Triangle: A Path Towards Efficient and Integrated Light Rail Systems

Place of Study: The University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia

Degree: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Civil) | Diploma of Professional Engineering Practice 

Michael Bourke is awarded with the 2022 RTSA Student Thesis Award for his thesis presenting whether the White Triangle signals are an effective safety mechanism system, its optimisation strategies and potential use on all light rail networks.  This study assessed one method of reducing intersection delays used on Sydney’s CBD and South East Light Rail (CSELR). The CSELR provides an extra ‘White Triangle,’ signal, displayed before the ‘proceed,’ indication (green light). This allows drivers to continue up to a red light at speed, knowing that the light is about to change in their favour. A thorough literature review found similar systems used around the world. However, limited guidance exists to aid signal designers and support the use of White Triangles in minimising journey times.  Michael’s thesis has discovered that White Triangle signals provide significant theoretical time savings of 5 to 30 seconds per intersection. Whilst only some of this is achievable in practice, White Triangles also reduce light rail vehicles signal phase lengths and maximise Transit Signal Priority effectiveness. The signals thus offer potential reductions in passenger journey times and cost savings to network operators.

Michael Bourke accepting his Undergraduate Thesis Award in Sydney, October 2022 (also pictured Oliver Lake, NSW/ACT Chapter Chair)


Kieranpal Sidhu

Thesis: Investigation of Locomotive Dynamics due to Hybrid Upgrade

Place of Study: The University of Queensland, Australia

Degree: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechanical) 

Kieranpal Sidhu is awarded with the 2022 RTSA Student Thesis Award for his novel and pertinent thesis presenting locomotive energy harvesting to decarbonize heavy haul by a fully loaded diesel-electric locomotive.  This study simulated a fully loaded GT46Ace diesel-electric locomotive traveling along the straight-line non-elevated segments of a railway track, at a constant speed of 50 𝑘𝑚/ℎ, under dry contact conditions, and, for a simulation time of 20 seconds. With the corrugation along the railway track forced the rigid bodies of the locomotive to vibrate, kinetic energy could be harvested.  The net energy available for use after the GT46Ace locomotive had travelled an accumulated track length of 130 𝑘𝑚 was 44.83 𝑊ℎ. Kieranpal has concluded that the total average net power generation was 17.74 𝑊 which was insufficient to operate as a consistent power source for the locomotive’s electric traction motors.  Kieranpal has conducted further study to seek practical use of the harvested net energy. He recommended for the net energy to be collected in an energy storage system which could be discharged later. After a simulated trip, a minimum 45 𝑊ℎ energy storage system could be discharged to power a 100 𝑊 lightbulb in the train cabin for approximately 26.9 minutes.

Kieranpal Sindhu accepting his Undergraduate Thesis Award in Brisbane, August 2022 (also pictured Peter Sturwohld, RTSA Qld Chapter Chair and  Sally Stannard, Deputy Director General (TransLink) at Department of Transport and Main Roads)