Aitken & Partners

Since 1983 Aitken & Partners has been providing reliable, accurate and cost-effective engineering advice. Our clients include major rail transport operators, international resources companies and local and international consultants.
We specialise in telecommunications and electromagnetic compatibility, with much of our work being in the rail industry. Aitken & Partners has also worked extensively in the broadcast industry, in television, FM radio and AM radio transmission.

A strong focus on safety through design, thorough understanding of the principles and assumptions that underly the application of standards and careful attention to detail are hallmarks of our approach.

Much of our work has been innovative and has achieved valuable economic advantage for our clients. For example, we believe the following were "world's first":

  • Operational GPS location reporting system on locomotives, integrated into the communication system

  • Touch screen driving information display on the Tangara passenger train

  • Computer based radio propagation model for an open cut mine (using the Geometric Theory of Diffraction)

  • Satellite telephony integrated in a railway train communication system with automatic lowest cost path selection.

 

John Aitken

JohnThe Principal is John Aitken. John has been a consultant in railway communications for over thirty years. Prior to involvement in the railway industry he worked with Telstra’s forebears for ten years in radio and cable systems construction. He has extensive experience in radio and television broadcasting. In 1983 John founded Aitken & Partners, a consulting engineering practice which specialises in communications engineering.

After work on microwave systems for the Queensland electrification project and mobile radio systems for mines in the Pilbara, John was responsible for specification of the Sydney Metronet train radio system. He was the engineer for much of the development of Countrynet in (NSW), pioneering the use of GPS and satellite telephone systems for railways.This was followed by the Pacific National AWARE locomotive system and the Pacific National Communications Control Centre (CCC) project.

Electromagnetic Compatibility is now John’s primary consulting activity. Aitken & Partners has prepared and implemented EMC Management Plans for a number of projects and has performed electromagnetic compatibility assessment and measurement for a variety of locomotives, track machines and other rolling stock; testing and certifying compliance with rail infrastructure manager requirements and international standards.  

Aitken & Partners has performed many EMC studies for wind farms (interference with radio and television reception) both before construction and after construction.   These complement experience in design, commissioning and evaluation of radio and television broadcast systems.  Recent EMC projects include advice to universities and hospitals affected by new railways.  These include the impact of the Melbourne Metro railway project on Melbourne University, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Women's Hospital and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (Peter Mac).  Advice is being provided to Monash University (through Arup) on the potential impact of the proposed Suburban Rail Loop through the Monash campus.

John has been an expert witness in several matters, some involving EMC and others related to railway communication.  He is the author of Australian Standard AS 7660 and was a development group member for AS 7722, EMC Management and AS 7715 Train Detection Systems. 

John is a trainer and assessor for Competency Australia and a qualified practitioner and trainer in the application of the international Engineering Safety Management Handbook (iESM).

John is active in the profession: in the railway industry he has been Chair of the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers, Australasia (irse.org.au) for two terms: 2008 - 2010 and a director and member of the Council of the UK based Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (irse.org)  He was NSW Secretary for the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (USA) (IEEE) and chair of the NSW Chapter of the IEEE EMC Society between 2015 and 2018.

From July 2022 John is focusing on teaching but is available for (very) interesting projects relating to EMC in the railway industry.