It was during his time at the University of Wollongong that Dr Philip Glencoe Laird developed his passion for rail.
The Keiraville resident has since retired from UOW but he still gets excited talking about and taking a ride on the different rail networks around Australia.
NSW still has a way to go to catch up to Victoria and Western Australia according to Dr Laird, who has been recognised this Australia Day with an OAM for service to the rail freight and passenger transport industry.
"A long time ago while at UOW I was involved in a research project looking at high-speed rail, which was 250kms an hour or faster. Nowadays I've tended to be more of an advocate for medium-speed rail, like they have in Victoria, Queensland and WA, of 160km/h on upgraded tracks," Dr Laird said.
"I think NSW has much opportunity to catch up with Victoria.
"There is a lot of work being done in Sydney and now Western Sydney at the moment. But I think the state really needs a better balance between the mega rail, road and metro projects occurring in Sydney.
"We are really overdue for a track upgrade from Sydney to Newcastle, Wollongong, Canberra and Parkes.
"If we could cut the travel time between Wollongong and Sydney from an hour and a half to an hour, that would be a real game changer, but it will require planning and it will require starting on the work.
"At the moment Victoria has been doing these regional track upgrades for 20 years now, and our last major one here on the South Coast line was Kiama electrification 20 years ago.
"NSW regional rail clearly has some catch-up to do."
Dr Laird thanked the late Professor John Blake. Prof Blake, who was the head of School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics in the 1980s, allowed Dr Laird to pursue his passion for rail transport research.
The inaugural chairman of the Railway Technical Society of Australasia (RTSA) added the work he did with the RTSA was very rewarding.
"Especially because what we did is we tried to encourage younger people going through university to consider railway engineering as a career," Dr Laird said.
"Over the years many have gone to university and then gone on to make real contributions both in Australia and New Zealand and in some cases Asia."
Dr Philip Glencoe Laird's achievement's:
- Railway Technical Society of Australasia
- Inaugural National Chairman, 1998 - 2000.
- Member, Awards Committee, 2000 - 2019.
- Life Member, 2008.
- Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
- Member, since 1987.
- NSW Committee Member.
- Professional and Advisory roles
- Member, High Speed Rail Project, CRC for Rail Innovation, 2009-2010.
- Supervisor, ARC Co-operative Research Project, Rail Infrastructure Corporation of NSW, 1998 - 2001.
- Supervisor, Land Freight Transport Energy project, Energy Research and Development Corporation of Australia, 1990-1993
- Consultant, Transport Energy Studies Pty Ltd, 1989-2017.
- Consultant, (then) State Rail Authority of NSW.
- Contributor, Track and Signal magazine, 1996 - 2020.
- Contributor, Railway Digest magazine, ongoing.
- University of Wollongong
- Honorary Principal Fellow.
Awards and recognition include:
- Vice-Chancellor's Award for Community Engagement, University of Wollongong
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