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The University of Southampton

CENV3065 Railway Engineering and Operations

Module Overview

This module provides comprehensive coverage of the main features of railway engineering and operations, including topics ranging from system planning through to the impacts of noise and vibration. During the module students will develop an appreciation of the distinctive features of engineering in the railway context, while also making links with more general engineering and transport planning practice. The module will combine theoretical analysis with practical applications to allow students to understand how railway engineering and operational principles are used in the real world. The module takes advantage of the University of Southampton’s substantial experience and expertise in railway research, and will make use of case studies based on recent and ongoing research projects.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The distinctive features of railway systems
  • The design and engineering of railway track and supporting infrastructure.
  • The design and engineering of railway rolling stock.
  • Key aspects of rail vehicle dynamics and the wheel-rail interface.
  • Principles and practice of railway signalling systems.
  • The railway timetabling process.
  • Railway station and interchange design.
  • Different models of organisation, regulation and governance for rail systems.
  • The role of human factors in railway operations and safety.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically assess the key engineering and operational constraints on railway operations on a given corridor.
  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different models of railway structure and regulation.
  • Describe key features of railway infrastructure design and engineering.
  • Identify appropriate features and characteristics for railway rolling stock intended to operate different service types.
  • Identify appropriate Human Factors methods for the design and evaluation of railway operations and processes.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Time management.
  • The use of creativity and innovation in problem solving.
  • Collating, synthesising and prioritising information.
  • Learning, studying and researching independently.
  • Reporting your work effectively.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Interpret and use railway timetabling charts.
  • Apply the elasticity-based model for rail demand forecasting.
  • Make use of methods for calculating rail capacity utilisation.


This module provides a detailed overview of the engineering and operation of railway systems, providing students with the background knowledge required for a range of careers in the rail industry. A focus on a small number of case study routes will provide a common thread through the different teaching sessions, with a similar approach used for the coursework assignment. Contact time in the module will include the following sessions, with each session including a mix of different delivery modes as decided by individual lecturers in consultation with the module lead: 1) Introduction to Rail Systems and Rail System Planning 2) Track and Sub-Base Engineering 3) Earthworks, Bridges and Tunnels 4) Infrastructure Monitoring and Maintenance 5) Vehicle Dynamics and the Wheel-Rail Interface 6) Rolling Stock and Propulsion Systems 7) Signalling Systems 8) Capacity, Timetabling and Traffic Management 9) Station and Interchange Design 10) Organisation, Regulation and Governance 11) Human Factors and Safety 12) Light Rail and High Speed Rail 13) Field Trip

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

A mixture of classroom-based teaching and learning methods will be used, including lectures, seminars, group activities and class discussions. These will be supplemented by short introductory videos available through Blackboard, self-study, and a field trip to a local rail facility.

Preparation for scheduled sessions10
Follow-up work10
Completion of assessment task70
Wider reading or practice30
External visits3
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Ongoing formative assessment opportunities will be offered through online self-completion ‘check your knowledge’ tests, available on Blackboard. Summative assessment will comprise a case-study based coursework assignment (100%). This will involve students putting together a feasibility study for the construction of a new rail route, based on a set of ‘mini-assignments’ linked to specific course sessions. A draft submission of the first stages of the assessment will be made after the first mini-assignment has been completed to allow students to gain feedback on their work and identify areas for improvement.


MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Field Trips

The costs of the field trip are covered within programme costs. There will be no additional costs to the student associated with this trip.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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