Railway systems engineering
Railway systems engineering is a multi-faceted engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 discipline dealing with the design, construction and operation of all types of railway systems.
It encompasses a wide range of engineering disciplines, including Civil engineering
Civil engineering
Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including works like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings...

, Computer engineering
Computer engineering
Computer engineering, also called computer systems engineering, is a discipline that integrates several fields of electrical engineering and computer science required to develop computer systems. Computer engineers usually have training in electronic engineering, software design, and...

, Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The field first became an identifiable occupation in the late nineteenth century after commercialization of the electric telegraph and electrical...

, Mechanical engineering
Mechanical engineering
Mechanical engineering is a discipline of engineering that applies the principles of physics and materials science for analysis, design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It is the branch of engineering that involves the production and usage of heat and mechanical power for the...

, Industrial engineering
Industrial engineering
Industrial engineering is a branch of engineering dealing with the optimization of complex processes or systems. It is concerned with the development, improvement, implementation and evaluation of integrated systems of people, money, knowledge, information, equipment, energy, materials, analysis...

 and Production engineering
Production engineering
Production engineering is a combination of manufacturing technology with management science. A production engineer typically has a wide knowledge of engineering practices and is aware of the management challenges related to production...

. A great many other engineering sub-disciplines are also called upon.


With the advent of the railways in the early nineteenth century, a need arose for a specialized group of engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

s capable of dealing with the unique problems associated with Railway engineering. As the railways expanded and became a major economic force, a great many engineers became involved in the field, probably the most notable being Richard Trevithick
Richard Trevithick
Richard Trevithick was a British inventor and mining engineer from Cornwall. His most significant success was the high pressure steam engine and he also built the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive...

, George Stephenson
George Stephenson
George Stephenson was an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives...

 and Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, FRS , was a British civil engineer who built bridges and dockyards including the construction of the first major British railway, the Great Western Railway; a series of steamships, including the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship; and numerous important bridges...

. Today, railway systems engineering continues to be a vibrant field of engineering, with many major projects such as the Channel Tunnel
Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel is a undersea rail tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent in the United Kingdom with Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais near Calais in northern France beneath the English Channel at the Strait of Dover. At its lowest point, it is deep...

 in progress.


  • Command, Control & Signaling
Office Systems Design
Data Center Design
Network Design
  • Energy Electrification
    Railway electrification system
    A railway electrification system supplies electrical energy to railway locomotives and multiple units as well as trams so that they can operate without having an on-board prime mover. There are several different electrification systems in use throughout the world...

Third rail
Third rail
A third rail is a method of providing electric power to a railway train, through a semi-continuous rigid conductor placed alongside or between the rails of a railway track. It is used typically in a mass transit or rapid transit system, which has alignments in its own corridors, fully or almost...

Overhead Contact System
Overhead lines
Overhead lines or overhead wires are used to transmit electrical energy to trams, trolleybuses or trains at a distance from the energy supply point...

  • Infrastructure Permanent Way
    Permanent way
    The permanent way is the elements of railway lines: generally the pairs of rails typically laid on the sleepers embedded in ballast, intended to carry the ordinary trains of a railway...

  • Light rail systems
  • On-track plant
  • Rail Systems Integration
  • Train control systems
  • Railway Vehicle Engineering
  • Wheel-rail interface
  • Systems Engineering
Fare Collection
Public Address
Intrusion Detection
Access Control
  • Systems Integration

Professional organizations

In the UK: The Railway Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

In the US The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association(AREMA)]]

Worldwide The Institute of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE)]]

See also

  • Association of American Railroads
    Association of American Railroads
    The Association of American Railroads is an industry trade group representing primarily the major freight railroads of North America . Amtrak and some regional commuter railroads are also members...

  • Degree of curvature
    Degree of curvature
    Degree of curve or degree of curvature is a measure of curvature of a circular arc used in civil engineering for its easy use in layout surveying....

  • List of engineering topics
  • List of engineers

  • Minimum railway curve radius
    Minimum railway curve radius
    The minimum railway curve radius, the shortest design radius, has an important bearing on constructions costs and operating costs and, in combination with superelevation in the case of train tracks, determines the maximum safe speed of a curve. Superelevation is not a factor on tramway tracks...

  • Radius of curvature (applications)
  • Track transition curve
    Track transition curve
    A track transition curve, or spiral easement, is a mathematically calculated curve on a section of highway, or railroad track, where a straight section changes into a curve. It is designed to prevent sudden changes in centripetal force...

External links

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