Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Turnbull Government’s $1.875 million commitment for research into strengthening railway tracks at the Centre for Geomechanics and Railway Engineering (University of Wollongong) is among the first projects to be funded under the new Linkage Projects scheme. Minister Birmingham said the Linkage Projects scheme was a direct response to the country’s “appalling” reputation internationally for collaboration between industry and higher education researchers where the OECD ranks Australia last out of all 33 participating countries for collaboration by large firms. “When researchers and businesses come to the Government with strong proposals that will clearly deliver real benefits for industry and Australians, we want to be able to green light them as quickly as possible,” Minister Birmingham said. ( source:

Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna will be leading a research team at the University of Wollongong in collaboration with the University of Newcastle, Infra Tech, the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI), Geoharbour Group, Coffey Geotechnics and SMEC, to determine underlying causes of a process known as ‘mud pumping’ which is highly destructive to railway lines. Fast heavy haul operations (such as loads used in mining and agriculture) impart repeated loads on the ground underneath the railway line, which can cause holes and other deformations of the ground, leading to serious damage of tracks and the immediate suspension of rail operations. The problem occurs particularly in areas where the ground is waterlogged, and causes millions of dollars damage to Australia’s 33,000km rail network every year.

Thanks to the Australian Government, through an ARC Linkage Projects scheme grant worth $675,000, as well as significant additional cash and in-kind support from five partner organisations, an experimental program and field study will be undertaken to understand the mechanisms of mud pumping, and the role of vertically installed drains will be quantified for improved practical design. The project aims to contribute to improved track longevity and reduced maintenance costs, with a corresponding boost in rail productivity.

Media Release from Senator Simon Birmingham – Liberal Senator for South Australia:
Fast-tracking NSW and Queensland project funding for industry-research collaboration

Further media Source:
Improving our rail network by understanding the process of “mud pumping”