Georgina Hartwell Blazes a Trail for Women in Rail

WSP Rail Systems Engineer, Georgina Hartwell, has been elected as the first female Chairperson of the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers Australasia (IRSE). For the past two years, Georgina has been the Vice Chairperson, and that role now goes to another talented WSP colleague, David Woodcock, Senior Principal Signalling Engineer.

“We are thrilled to have two of our senior people as officers on the Australasian chapter of IRSE – the professional body for railway signalling engineers,” says Charlie Jewkes, Director of Transport. “IRSE encourages professional development and networking via national technical meetings, frequent local meetings, and formal professional education. It’s a great association for rail owners and operators, consultants, constructors and suppliers to share their experiences, knowledge and expertise. Australia’s rail industry is undergoing rapid growth and technological change, and these leadership roles are critical to ensuring that our signalling industry continues to evolve and adapt to deliver railways which are safe, efficient and successful.”


In 2014, when Georgina came from the United Kingdom to Australia, she brought a niche signalling skillset in systems integration and European Train Control Systems (ETCS), having successfully helped deliver the Thameslink Project in the London. In Australia, she’s already made excellent contributions to ETCS projects in Brisbane and Sydney, as well as providing technical advice on many conventional signalling projects across ANZ.


Georgina is also excited to grow the IRSE , share the group’s collective skillset and help diversify the member base while making it a place where younger members learn from experts. Georgina says, “Being the Chair of the IRSE is a huge privilege and an exciting opportunity to help shape the industry.”


David Woodcock, who is also chair of the Victorian State committee, joined WSP in April 2020 after 30 years’ experience in signal engineering around the world on many multi-million-dollar mainline and mass-transit rail projects. His involvement with IRSE goes right back to 1996 so he’s thrilled to have the chance to help grow the institute as Vice Chair. He says, “I am grateful for this opportunity to research new technologies and help with strategies and learning objectives that boost signalling professionals’ ongoing development.”


Georgina says, while Australia is commissioning so many infrastructure projects and the current pandemic is catalysing more opportunities to engage digitally, now is the ideal time to grow the signalling discipline and disseminate knowledge.


“My goal as IRSE Chairperson is to help grow and diversify the Australasian signalling engineering capability to benefit our members, clients and our communities.


“I also get the chance to build my own ‘rail network’ while I progress the IRSE’s industry presence.”


Sam McWilliam, Rail Team Executive, congratulates Georgina and David, saying, “With Georgie and David as Chair and Vice Chair, the future of signalling engineering in Australia is in good hands. WSP is committed to supporting the IRSE and investing in developing the next generation of signalling engineers.”


If you would like to get involved in the IRSE to continue your professional learning, please contact Georgina Hartwell and David Woodcock for more information.


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