The importance of professional engineers to rail
There has never been a better time to be an engineer in the rail industry because of the massive investment to rebuild and modernise the industry. Projects include new substations to powers trains, new digital train radio systems, the next generation of suburban passenger trains, light rail and new freight corridors, stations and many more.
What do these projects all have in common? Engineers.
Engineering is a very broad term. There are many different types of engineers and the rail industry has jobs for almost all engineering disciplines. The engineers we are looking at here are ‘professional engineers’ whose qualifications are recognised by Engineers Australia and the Institute of Professional Engineers in New Zealand and who have a bachelor level degree in engineering.
There are other roles in the rail industry also called 'engineers'. These people may have worked their way up from a trade to become an engineer but may not have formal bachelor-level qualifications in engineering. If you are interested in these types of engineering roles, go to the Trades and Technicians area of the website.
The rail industry also employs many engineers from overseas. Engineers with qualifications from overseas must have their degrees assessed by Engineers Australia or the Institute of Professional Engineers in New Zealand. For more information and website addresses, see the Useful Links below.
Examples of rail engineering projects
- NSW: New digital train radio system
- NZ: Auckand City rail link
- NSW-VIC: Modernisation of interstate rail network
- QLD: Coal export terminal
- SA: Projects to be completed in 2013
The main functional areas of rail engineering
Project engineers in rail are involved in planning, scheduling, coordination and management of a range of projects across a number of engineering disciplines. They ensure that all project objectives and specifications are achieved in accordance to scope, program requirements, resource requirements, safety, environmental requirements, budget and time.
Operational engineers work to ensure infrastructure integrity and the safety of the rail network from a system and public perspective. Operational areas include electrical, signals, and communications. Engineers in these areas are responsible for the coordination of responses to asset failures and operational incidents.
Asset construction and maintenance
Engineers in construction and maintenance are responsible for the construction, maintenance and ongoing management of rail infrastructure assets and equipment. Construction and maintenance engineers work on track, bridge, tunnels, platforms, level crossings, stations and other buildings, overhead wiring structures, points machines and signal hardware.
Design engineers provide technical input into rail infrastructure projects - from planning, concept and feasibility stages, through to detailed design and commissioning, operations and maintenance. Design engineers work across all facets of the rail business, from electrical and signals to rolling stock and communications.
Engineers employed in this field are involved in developing and implementing standards, developing asset strategies and emerging technologies including software, and standards and systems compliance.
- Australasian Railway Association - Careers in Rail
- ARA members
- Australian JobSearch
- Careers New Zealand
- Engineers Australia (EA)
- Institute of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ)
- Australian Professional Engineers Scientists and Managers Association (APESMA)
- Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM)
- Australian Acoustical Society (AAS)
- Board of Surveying and Spatial Information (BOSSI)
Rail-related training and education
The following organisations and universities provide specific courses and information related to professional and vocational careers in the rail industry.
- Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE)
- Central Queensland University (CQU)
- University of Wollongong
- Queensland University of Technology