UWindsor engineering professor featured in Egyptian documentary

A University of Windsor professor is still receiving recognition for a project he completed 40 years ago.

Dr. Waguih ElMaraghy, who is now a UWindsor industrial and manufacturing systems engineering professor, was recently lauded for his role as chief design engineer on Toronto’s first bi-level GO Train coach.

A group of Egyptian freelancers chose to highlight ElMaraghy and his innovative design in a 40-minute long documentary that aired Oct. 9, 2015 on Al Nahar TV. The documentary is part of a series that highlights various accomplishments of Egyptian expatriates.

“The challenge back then was figuring out how to do it a simple way so it didn’t create a maintenance nightmare,” said ElMaraghy, who was born in Cairo.

At the time, ElMaraghy had just completed his PhD at McMaster University and worked at Dofasco, a steel company based in Hamilton, Ont., as a suspension and ride quality specialist. Toronto needed to accommodate a growing population and single level trains were no longer cutting it.

“They needed something bigger,” he said. “They couldn’t just increase the number of trains because — at that time — they shared the railway track with freight and they couldn’t lengthen the train because of the size of the platforms.”

So instead, they increased the height and created the popular green and white bi-level train coaches that could transfer up to 5,000 people.

“When you have that much passenger load, and a double-decker train, you have a high centre of gravity,” ElMaraghy said. “And sometimes it’s empty, so the range of load on the suspension varies a great deal between empty and 500 people per coach. So that was a big challenge.”

The contact area between the train’s wheel and the steel rail is roughly the size of a dime. ElMaraghy’s suspension design maintained control over this minuscule contact point, while eliminating hunting instability due to rail/wheel creep, which can cause the train to become instable and derail.

ElMaraghy said the train was the first of its kind in Canada and landed the design team an award from the Ontario government at the Hamilton train station inauguration ceremony in 1975.

The majority of the filming for the documentary took place at the Government of Ontario Willowbrook yard in Toronto during April 2015 and included a ride and dinner with the documentary crew on one of the VIA Rail mainline LRC coaches ElMaraghy spent countless hours designing.

A second UWindsor professor, Dr. Hoda ElMaraghy, will be featured in the series for her work on changeable and reconfigurable manufacturing systems and the iFactory located in the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Centre in the CEI building.