Prof PJ Gräbe

Hannes Gräbe is a civil engineer with 16 years’ experience in track technology, track geotechnology, advanced laboratory testing, field investigations, maintenance models and numerical analysis of track structures.  
After completing his under-graduate studies at the University of Pretoria in 1994, he joined Transnet Freight Rail’s Tack Technology Centre, Johannesburg.  From 1999 – 2002 he studied abroad and obtained a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Southampton (UK).
This research was focussed on the design life prediction of railway foundations under heavy axle loading.   He is a registered professional engineer, Fellow of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) and chairperson of the SAICE Railway and Harbour division. He is currently 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 also responsible for railway research and continued professional education in the form of short courses presented to industry.  
Teaching duties:  
  • SVC 323: Transportation Engineering
  • SSC 412: Research Project
  • SBZ 420: Civil Engineering Construction Management
Current Research interests  
  • Track formation design, based on layer stiffness and accurate estimates of plastic and resilient deformation.
  • Numerical track analysis using Finite Element 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).
  • Geosynthetic design using geotextiles, geogrids and geocells for load support, drainage and separation. Quality control and material compliance for track construction projects.
  • Structural Dynamics problems involving amongst others, resilient pads and track transitions.
  • Aspects related to Continuously Welded Rail (CWR) and the measurement of the stress free temperature in CWR.  


Research Supervision (Current students)

  • Broekman, A. (PhD, 2022) - The use of rail photogrammetry for track geometry measurement.
  • Vandoorne, R. (PhD, 2021) - Climatic effects on railway formation material.
  • Jacobs, D. (MEng, 2021).
  • Hawley, C. (MEng 2021) - LIDAR Digitisation.
  • Pienaar, D. (MEng, 2020) - The use of vehicle tracking devices for condition monitoring.
  • Van Schalkwyk, H. (MEng, 2021) - Development of smart railpads.


Research Supervision (Graduated students)

  • Vd Westhuizen, N.J. (PhD (Civil Engineering)) - The effect of axle loading on the behavior of saturated and unsaturated railway formation materials.
  • Van Niekerk, O.A. (MEng (Transportation)).
  • Demmerez de Charomoy, C.P. (MEng (Transportation)) - Quantifying the economic benefits of gauge changes on the South African core railway network.
  • Myoya, R.L. (MEng (Transportation)) - The influence of the gap on platform train interface occurrences.
  • Broekman, A. (MEng (Transportation)) - Metrology of mesoscale ballast particle dynamics using Kli-pi.
  • Fourie, D.J. (PhD (Civil Engineering)) - Railway Wheel Squeal as a result of unsteady longitudinal and spin creepage.
  • Schulz-Poblete, MC (MEng (Geotechnical)) - Soil suction response of granular railway formation materials under cyclic loading.
  • Mones Ruiz Martin, HA (MEng (Transportation)) - A mechanistic-empirical method for characterisation of railway track formation.
  • Jideani, TC (MEng (Transportation)) - The development of suitable cyclic loading and boundary conditions for ballast box tests.
  • Mvhelasi, M (MEng (Geotechnical)) - Ballast Characterisation using laser technology.
  • Vandoorne, R (MEng (Transportation)) - Stochastic rail life cycle cost maintenance modeling using Monte Carlo simulation.
  • Powell, A (MEng (Transportation)) - Railway formation condition assessment using seismic surface waves.
  • Rondo, AJ (MSc (Transportation)) - The use of Ground Penetrating Radar for Track Substructure Characterization.
  • Du Plooy, R - (MEng (Transportation)) - Characterisation of rigid polyurethane foam reinforced ballast through cyclic loading box tests.
  • Vorster, P - (MEng (Geotechnical)) - Centrifuge modelling of railway embankments under static and cyclic loading.
  • Vorster, DJ - (MEng (Transportation)) - The use of Ground Penetrating Radar for Track Substructure Characterization.
  • Vd Westhuizen, NJ - (MEng (Transportation)) - The integration of Railway Condition Monitoring Technologies to Establish Track Asset Management Improvement.

Publications list  (Google Scholar profile)

- Author Andre Broekman

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences