Rail Infra Services


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Present the


DESIGN | Construct | Maintain | Renew


Burger Kobus Mr

Kobus Burger started his career as a bursar from RACEC in 1981 and spend the first 10 years with the company working on various construction projects. Initially as a student engineer doing civil engineering projects on roads, railway formation and structures. In 1984 he was transferred to the rail construction division working on the relaying of the coal line and various other rail related projects. In 1993 established Econotrack that specialised in underground track construction and sold his interest in 1996 and ventured into cattle farming and joined Grinaker in the same year as Product Manager. Currently still with the same company but known as Aveng Infraset. In the 23 years at Aveng Infraset was part of the team that developed 23 new products and established 6 production facilities for projects in South America, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique. During this time his team won the Fulton awards for innovative products and was awarded Concrete Achiever of the Year in 2009 for the development of various products for Gautrain as well as the SAICE Sanlam and Holcim Award for the sustainable products for being the inventor of the Universal sleeper and Infrabolt. The product range for railway products developed by Aveng Infraset is view by their peers in Europe as the most innovative and some of the products are now used Internationally. Kobus is currently the Business Development Executive for Aveng Infraset. Kobus holds National Higher Diploma in Civil Engineering.

Dutton Chris Dr (Pr Eng)

Dr Chris Dutton’s experience comprises 37 years as a mechanical engineerin the field of railways and associated mechanical equipment. His present activities include the development of amended request for proposal technical documents involving Gautrain rapid rail link (GRRL) based upon the lessons learnt from the involvement in the adjudication of the GRRL tender for additional EMUs and depot enhancements. The adjudication development of rolling stock standards, reviewing rolling stock specifications for passenger commuter EMUs, providing expert knowledge for the investigations into rolling stock procurement projects, , reviewing the Railway Safety Regulator’s Act to align to the high speed railway standards, the systems design, simulation and analysis of potential and/or existing railway systems (green and brown field projects), accident investigations and railway standards development for the South African Rail Safety Regulator, rolling stock design, maintenance planning for rolling stock inclusive of all facilities, machinery and equipment required therefore. His railway engineering experience includes the rendering of a technical service relating to multi-discipline projects involving rail road assets inclusive of rolling stock, infrastructure, plant & equipment and facilities involving engineering consultation, proposal analysis , asset life cycle management, technical management of concessions and OMU’s (Operate, maintenance & upgrade), project management and management, development & maintenance of all rolling stock lease contracts, develop and implement energy optimisation technology, development of business continuity management systems for railway companies, rolling stock evaluations for financial institutions.

De Koker Johan Mr (Pr Tech Eng)

Johan de Koker  gained nearly forty years of experience in rail and track research and development. His expertise cover rail defects and fatigue, corrosion protection, profiling and lubrication of rail, as well as insulated rail joints and technical audit of railway track. He developed a practical two piece replacement end post for insulated rail joints and his formula for the positioning of trackside rail lubricators gained international recognition. Johan holds a Masters in Civil Engineering (Structural) with a thesis on Insulated Rail Joints and served as head of department of Civil Engineering Technology at the Doornfontein campus of the University of Johannesburg. He presented and published more than fifty papers on technical subjects.

Duvel Jonathan Mr (Pr.Eng, CPEng)

Mr Jonathan Duvel has over 25 years’ experience in railways which includes infrastructure maintenance; multi-disciplinary management and track technology. He started his career in 1994 with Spoornet, working as an Engineer in Vryheid on the COALLINE, and later on NATCOR. From 2002, he worked for the BHP Institute of Railway Technology in wheel-rail interaction, rail management and maintenance standards for the BHP Iron Ore railway (Western Australia). This included rail, track, formation and bridge research focussed on progressing the operation to an axle load of 40 tonnes. In 2007, he returned to Spoornet and worked as Depot Engineer (Western Cape) and as Infrastructure Manager of the COALLINE. He is currently the Principal Track Engineer of Transnet Freight Rail, leading the track discipline in Transnet and advising other railway operations in Africa. Jonathan is registered as a Professional Engineer with ECSA and is registered as a Chartered Professional Engineer with the Institution of Engineers Australia.

Gräbe Hannes Prof. (Pr Eng, PhD)

Prof. Hannes Gräbe is a civil engineer with experience in track technology, geotechnology, advanced laboratory testing, field investigations, condition monitoring, maintenance models and numerical analysis of track structures.He is employed by the University of Pretoria as Associate professor: Chair in Railway Engineering where he lectures under- and post-graduate courses in Railway Engineering. He is responsible for supervising a railway research group consisting of Masters and PhD students and also develops short courses for the railway industry.Prior to his academic career, he was employed by Transnet Freight Rail, tasked with research and development in their Track Testing Centre. He is a board member of the South African Heavy Haul Association (SAHHA) and frequently presents his research at international conferences and in scientific journals. Prof. Gräbe’s research interests include the following:
      • Track formation design, based on layer stiffness and accurate estimates of plastic and resilient deformation.
      • Numerical track analysis using FE modelling and other numerical methods.
      • The testing and evaluation of non-conventional track structures (e.g. Tubular Modular Track and slab track).
      • Track condition assessment using new technologies such as Remote Video Monitoring (RVM) and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).
      • Formation investigations using in-situ tests (e.g. falling weight and Pencel Pressuremeter) and continuous monitoring of unsaturated soil behaviour as a response to environmental changes.
      • Geosynthetic product design using geotextiles, geogrids and geocells for load support, drainage and separation.
      • Structural Dynamics problems involving resilient pads and track transitions.
      • Aspects related to Continuously Welded Rail (CWR) and the measurement of the stress free temperature in CWR.
Prof. Gräbe holds a PhD degree from the University of Southampton (UK) in Geotechnical Engineering, is a fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) and a registered professional engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

Hettasch Georg Mr (Pr Eng)

After completing his bachelor and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of Stellenbosch in 1992, Mr Georg Hettasch joined Spoornet’s Technical Operating department in Johannesburg. Georg is currently employed as Senior Engineer in the Technology Management Department of Transnet Freight Rail. Here he is responsible for keeping Transnet up to date with the latest developments in the field of Wheel / Rail Interaction technology. Among others, he has experience in: train operations, management information systems, rolling stock condition monitoring, technical audits, technical derailment investigation and wheel / rail interaction. He considers training as one of the fun parts of his work. Georg has written a number of papers for conferences of the South African as well as the International Heavy Haul Association. He contributed to “Guidelines to Best Practices for Heavy Haul Railway Operations: Management of the Wheel and Rail Interface” with a section on “Heavy Haul Wheel Maintenance Decision Making”. Georg is a member of the South African Institution for Mechanical Engineers (SAIME) and the South African Society for Railway Engineering (SASRE). He is registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) as a Professional Engineer.

Mistry Kanak Mr (Pr Eng, BSc Eng, MBL)

Kanak Mistry graduated with a BEng Metallurgy and Material Sciences degree in 1989 through the Engineering Faculty of the University of Witwatersrand. In the year 2000, he obtained a MBL degree from the University of South Africa. In April 1989 he started his career with the South African Transport Services as an Assistant Engineer in the Metallurgical Laboratory. By 1992 he joined Consolidated Metallurgical Industry and worked as a Production Engineer. He returned to his first passion for Rails in 1996 when he joined Spoornet (now Transnet Freight Rail) as a Senior Engineer Rail Technology. He currently holds the position of Principal Engineer Track Technology and has gained considerable knowledge and extensive experience the rail industry over the past 20years. His field of expertise include manufacturing, fabrication, assembly and welding of steel and railway structures. He is actively involved in Failure Analysis of Railway related components and has been a representative on the Board of Derailment as a member and Chairman. He also serves as a part-time lecturer at the University of Pretoria and has co-authored international papers. Kanak is registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) as a Professional Engineer since 2003 and has served as a council member on the ECSA board. He is also registered as an International Welding Engineer.

Mülke Friedel Dr (Pr Eng, DEng, MBL, FSAICE)

Dr Friedel Mülke is a Professional Railway Civil Engineer with 40+ years of experience specialising in Railway Business development, Railway Operating, Railway Safety, Railway Project Management, Railway Concessioning, Design of Railway Systems and Railway Infrastructure, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of railway lines and Design and Construction of new railway lines. He also has experience in the Strategic and Operational management of Railway Systems and has applied his experience gained as a Constructional Resident Engineer, Regional Manager and General Manager of Spoornet (the then Rail Authority in South Africa) and the development of rail concessioned projects in countries in Africa and Brazil.He has been engaged with the development of a Rail Safety Strategy for South Africa and studies on the Efficiency and Quality of Railways as well as the benchmarking aspects of Rail. He has been involved in several railway projects in South Africa, Australia, Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, DRC, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar and Brazil. He has lately been involved in the development of the systemic railway designs, operational simulations, the optimizing of the creation of capacities, the developing of financial models leading to the development of Rail Tariffs for new Rail projects. He holds a Doctorate in Engineering from the University of Pretoria and a Masters degree in Business Leadership from the University of South Africa. He is a registered Professional Engineer and a Fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering.

Pienaar Nico Mr (Pr Tech Eng)

Mr Nico Pienaar started his career, after completion of his studies, in the railway engineering maintenance environment and work at the Queenstown, Kimberley and Nelspruit Spoornet maintenance deports. The past 11 years Nico joined GIBB Engineering and Architecture as a Pr Tech Eng, and had the privilege to be involve in railway track condition assessments, geometric designs and design integration management on several projects in Africa to include countries such as Tanzania, Nigeria, DRC, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Botswana. Mega projects of involvement in the South Africa railway engineering environment included the design of the Bridge City, Moses Mabhida station, and the Motherwell passenger railway corridor. Nico currently also serves as an assessor, interviewer and moderator for the Engineering Council of South Africa.

Slier Felix Mr (Pr Tech Eng)

Felix Slier started his career in 1975 at the South African Railways and Harbours (Spoornet). He completed his four-year electrical engineering course in 1979 and was appointed as an engineering technician in the Electrical Department in the Johannesburg office. During his tenure of 31 years at Spoornet he rose to Divisional Head of the Overhead Track Technology Department where he was responsible for all design aspects on the overhead track discipline. He has been registered as a Professional Technologist (Eng) with ECSA since 1991. He has also been the presenter of the OHTE Technology lecture during the Multi-Disciplinary Railway Engineering Course at the University of Pretoria for a number of years. In 2005 he resigned from Spoornet and in 2007 he joined Tractionel Enterprise where he was appointed as the lead designer for the Overhead Track System of the Gautrain. In 2009 he became a Director (co-owner) of Railco Pty LTD where he specialised in the overhead track design of private sidings. Railco has since been sold to Mehleketo where Felix was signed up to complete the Gauteng Phase 2 Re-signalling Project. He is now retired and farms in the karoo.

Sprong Willem Dr (Pr Eng, DEng)

Dr Willem Sprong is an electrical engineer with 20 years’ experience specialising in railway engineering and management. He has experience in substation, reticulation, distribution and transmission designs. Dr Sprong also specialises in the development and implementation of maintenance strategies, not limited to electrical engineering. He has been involved in the development of strategies for training and safety management at different levels. Dr Sprong has written various publications on the subjects of maintenance, asset and risk management. He delivered papers at local and international conferences. The last international conference was The Future in Transportation World Conference, cologne (Germany) during July 2017. He is a part time lecturer at the University of Pretoria for the Chair in Railway Engineering. Dr Sprong holds a Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate Degrees in Electrical Engineering. He is registered as a professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa.

Zaayman Leon Dr (PhD)

Dr Leon Zaayman began his career in 1990 in the field of Aeronautical Engineering and maintenance before moving into the Railway Engineering and maintenance field in 1996; first with Plasser South Africa and later launching Kimba Consulting in 2008. Over the last 10 years Leon, has gained international experience completing track and maintenance related contracts in Europe, Southern America and Africa. Since the early 2000’s, Leon has delivered technical lectures at Railway Operators, throughout Southern and Northern Africa, as well as having presented at a number of local and international conferences. Leon, holds a National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering and received his PhD in Engineering Management from the University of Johannesburg. Leon has written and produced technical articles on all things track, published in a variety of local and international trade and technical journals. He has also produced three reference manuals which have been distributed to a global audience, the one book having been translated to Spanish.

Mr G.D. (David) Mpye

David is a qualified Civil Engineer, who obtained his BEng in Civil Engineering in 2010 at the University of Pretoria. Upon that, as a Transnet Freight Rail bursar, he joined the company in Johannesburg at the Track Testing Centre, focusing mainly on the application of strain technology for management of CWR and development of geotechnical solutions for rehabilitation projects. In 2012, he graduated with a BEng (Hons) in Transportation Engineering at the University of Pretoria specialising in Railway Infrastructure Maintenance Management and Track Geotechnology. In 2013, he enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch, where in 2015 completed a MEng in Geotechnical Engineering, where for the dissertation, developed an analytical model to investigate the mathematical relationship between the Standard Penetration Test (SPT) and Dynamic Probe Super Heavy (DPSH). In March 2016, he joined the University of Pretoria, in pursuit of a PhD qualification focusing mainly on the effect of increased axle loading on the behaviour of railway foundations under unsaturated soil conditions. David is an associate member with the South African Institution of Civil Engineer (SAICE), and is a registered Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).