The Chair in Railway Engineering at the University of Pretoria was established in 1996 with the kind sponsorship of Transnet Freight Rail. The current agreement between UP and TFR is for a five year period: April 2013 – March 2018. Presently the Chair has 2 permanent positions, namely a Professor and Programme Manager. Non-permanent staff also forms part of the Chair and include Course facilitators, Lecturers, Administrative assistants as well as under and post graduate research students.
The Chair currently focuses on four aspects, namely:
- Graduate training
- Continued education
- Technical support and
- Research and Development.
The chair holder is Prof Hannes Gräbe, a civil engineer with 20 years' experience in track technology, track geotechnology, advanced laboratory testing, field investigations, maintenance models and numerical analysis of track structures.
After completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Pretoria in 1994, Prof Gräbe joined Transnet freight rail's Track Technology Centre, Johannesburg. He studied abroad from 1999 to 2002 and obtained a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Southampton (UK). This research was focused on the design life prediction of railway foundations under heavy axle loading.
Prof. Gräbe is a registered professional engineer and Fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE).