Introduction to Railroad Engineering and Operations

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Course Overview

Increase your skills and competencies while expanding your knowledge of railroad engineering, operations, and management. You will understand:

  • Railroad operating fundamentals and management
  • Railroad track structure—sub-ballast, ballast, ties, rail
  • Railroad engineering—alignment
  • Special trackwork
  • Signals, crossings, bridges, yards, and facilities
  • Freight, inter-city passenger, and transit
  • Case studies, examples, and more.

Who Should Attend?

  • Railroad employees
  • Consultants and contractors
  • Local, state, and federal officials
  • Engineers and technicians

Course Outline

Railroad Industry Overview

  • Introduction to the world of freight, transit, inter-city passenger, high-speed and other rail.
  • History/railroad facts
  • Track network
  • Train types/car types
  • Industry trade groups
  • Regulatory agencies

Railroad Operating Fundamentals

  • Operating ratio
  • Train movements
  • Modeling
  • Stringlines
  • Track charts

Track Structure

Learn in detail the importance and standard practices of all aspects of the track structure beginning with the importance of drainage and subballast up to the top-of-rail for a variety of applications and situations.

  • Drainage
  • Subballast
  • Ballast
  • Ties
  • Rail
  • Special trackwork: turnouts, frogs, and other

Track Alignment

  • Design and maintenance characteristics
  • Track gauge
  • Vertical alignment
  • Horizontal alignment
  • Track stiffness
  • Clearances
  • Design Criteria
  • Difference between rail and highway, freight and transit

Bridges and Structures

  • Bridge types
  • Design loadings
  • Bridge ratings
  • Inspections and FRA 237 Bridge Management


  • Block signal systems
  • Track circuits
  • Aspects and indications
  • Positive train control

Traction Power

  • Equipment
  • Overhead contact systems
  • Third rail


  • Geometric design
  • Warning devices
  • Pre-emption


Jeff Keating

Jeff Keating, PE is currently a Senior Rail Design Engineer with Lochner in Chicago, Illinois. He has more than 35 years of experience in the design, construction and maintenance of rail transit and railroad projects. He has held senior engineering and project management roles in dozens of transit, rail, and highway projects throughout the United States. He has experience in program management, project management, and quality management.

Michael Loehr

Michael J. Loehr, PE, is the Global Technology Leader at U.S. Rail & Transit for Jacobs Engineering in Richmond, Virgina. Loehr leads the development of innovative and cost-effective designs for rail and transit practice projects throughout the United States and assists project managers and project teams in response to specific client needs and project requirements. He has more than 36 years of extensive engineering, design, and construction experience on a wide variety of railroad industry projects, including 10 years with Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail), and 26 years of consulting. His expertise and insight have been developed through his work on passenger rail facilities, high speed rail projects, freight rail installations, railway bridges, commercial and industrial sites, and highways. He has worked on projects throughout North America as well as Indonesia, China, Jamaica, and Africa.

Dave Peterson

Dave is the Program Director for the University of WisconsinMadison Railroad Engineering and Operations Program. The program consists of 12 courses conducted annually on topics ranging from introduction to railroad engineering and operations to signaling, bridges, crossings, and traction power.

Mark Morrison

Mark recently retired after more than 30 years with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Working for WisDOT Mark’s job duties have included designing highways, construction of highways and highway bridges, traffic safety engineering and railroad engineering. The majority of Mark’s career has dealt with safety engineering focusing on highway-railroad grade crossings. Mark served as the State of Wisconsin’s Grade Crossing Safety Engineer and was head of WisDOT’s Railroad Engineering Unit. Mark is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Mark served on the National Committee for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) technical subcommittee for Part 8 of the MUTCD.  Mark has been an Operation Lifesaver presenter since 2000. Mark has made numerous presentations on grade crossing safety at various national, regional and state conferences.

Upcoming dates (0)

Take this course when it’s offered next!

Program Director

Dave Peterson

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