Rail Vehicle Engineering 101

Learn the basics of rail vehicle engineering, for a career in rail or as a hobbyist.
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  • Lectures 17
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 9/2016 English

Course Description

The rail industry is thriving worldwide and offers plenty of interesting jobs. The design and manufacturing of rail vehicles is different from other engineering tasks in several aspects. This course will introduce you to the most important differences in order to prepare you for a potential career in rail.

Learn the basics of rail vehicle engineering to work in sustainable transportation:

  • Learn to classify rail vehicles according to operation or vehicle type
  • Get to know the main differences between road and rail transport
  • Identify structural elements of rail vehicles and their requirements
  • Understand longitudinal and lateral dynamics of rail vehicles, including hunting movement and wheel rail contact
  • Find out how rail vehicles are manufactured

This course will help you find out why rail vehicles are designed as they are and how this links to operational requirements.

The course was developed based on introductory lectures held at Aachen university of applied sciences as part of the course on economics and technology of railways (in German). It provides you with a primer that helps you to acquire jobs in the booming and future oriented railway industry.

While there are several textbooks on the subject, I don't know of any online course to give you quick access. Even if you wish to use a textbook, this course will help you to enter the subject.

What are the requirements?

  • Basic Knowledge in Mathematics and Geometry is recommendedalso general
  • Basic Knowledge in Mechanical Engineering will be helpful

What am I going to get from this course?

  • You will be able to classify rail vehicles and to know their fundamental differences to road vehicles. This will help you to formulate requirements for rail vehicles and their subsystems as well understand the operational restrictions the are subjected to.
  • You will know the structural elements of rail vehicles, so you can discuss technical features confidently.
  • The knowledge of longitudinal and lateral dynamics will provide you with important basics to perform your own calculations.
  • You will learn the basics of manufacturing rail vehicles, which will help you to understand the processes of rail vehicles.

Who is the target audience?

  • The course is considered for anybody interested in finding out more about rail vehicle design and the technical details behind them. It will also help people who aim to change their careers towards rail to feel confident with their knowledge. Obviously, this course cannot cater for experienced professionals and senior students, however their feedback is appreciated!

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

After talking about my motivation to work in the area of railways, I will walk you through the course contents.

Section 2: System Overview
Definition of a Rail Vehicle
Systematics of rail vehicles
Section 3: Rail vehicle fundamentals
Structural elements
Operating conditions
Section 4: Train dynamics
Coordinate system and forces
Train and track resistance
Train braking
Wheel-rail normal contact
Wheel-rail tangential contact
Section 5: Track guidance
Track gauges
Running stability: the hunting motion
Section 6: Vehicle design
Car body requirements
Main elements and design principles
Lightweight design
Design limitation
Running gear structure

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Instructor Biography

Prof. Dr. Raphael Pfaff, Professor of Rail Vehicle Engineering

Raphael studied Mathematics, Mechatronics and Control Engineering in Bochum, Hagen and Coventry, where he gained his PhD in 2013. He worked as a System Engineer for Siemens and Faiveley Transport, on projects  including Vectron Locomotive and the new high speed train ICE 4. As Manager Product Engineering, he was responsible for the development of coupler systems before receiving the call upon a  professorship for Rail Vehicle Engineering at Aachen University of  Applied Sciences in 2014. 

Research interests include digitisation of rail vehicles, reliability modelling and additive manufacturing.

Besides research and teaching, he employs his skills as assessor for rail vehicles and consultant.

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