When Australia-based Deepu Dharmajan decided to set up railfactor.com, an online platform for railway professionals and those with an interest in railways, it was out of a desire to help others find their way in that industry and learn more about it. He intends it as a resource of knowledge and opportunities for those looking to make a career of it. He brings in 22 years of experience working in the industry in India, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore and Australia.
“It is a recession-proof industry and there are always jobs because infrastructure building is constantly on,” he says over a call from Perth, Australia, where he works as Engineering Manager (Signalling) with the Public Transport Authority.
Deepu’s first experience with the railways was working with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation when Delhi Metro was being constructed. He was part of the team that worked with the French company Alstom on the signalling system design; eventually, he joined that company and moved to the Netherlands. He went on with moves across the world, working on various projects which included Betuwe Route Project -The Netherlands, Incheon Airport Rail Road -Korea, Australia-based Hunter Valley North Coast, Cronulla line Duplication, FMG Mining Railway and BHP Mining Railway, Singapore’s Thomson East Coast Line and the Singapore Circle Line Extension besides Philippines’ Manila Light Rail Project.
His interest in railways, however, started when he was a kid. “Railways and trains have always been on my mind. I used to play cricket in front of the Mayyanad (near Kollam) railway station, which is 50 metres from my home, speaking to the station master and flagmen. One of them, Mr George, an Anglo Indian, used to even help me with English,” he reminisces. Waving at trains passing by, he learnt the basics of how signals work, “I noticed how a green signal turned to red just as the engine crossed the signal. I used to think driving a train was the hardest job on the earth!”
Deepu’s area of expertise is signalling. “It ensures that no two trains are on the same track at the same time and a safe distance is maintained between trains,” he says. “I decided to create RailFactor when I recalled how much I struggled to understand signalling systems when I moved out of India. Signalling principles, practices, and standards are different across the world. Help from experienced hands made it easier.” All the information he gathered along the way has gone into the website as “I did not want the information I gathered to go to waste when it could be a resource for others.”
Among the website’s features are blogs written by experts on various aspects of the railways, job listings across the world (in the sector), articles that have appeared in publications, and also a space for railway companies to post their profiles. He sees this as a platform that connects all related sectors under one umbrella. Plans include adding a e-commerce section as well, the funds raised would go into a corpus to help families of members in case of their death.
RailFactor is not his first railway ‘project’; he used to blog earlier on/as railprofessional.net before work commitments interfered and he could not keep up. After he relaunched as a website a year ago, traffic on it has been increasing, with around 2,000-odd registered members and close to 20,000 visits to the RailFactor site.
For more information log on to railfactor.com