Fundamentals of Electric Rail Vehicle Systems Design, Procurement, Operations, and Maintenance


Upcoming dates coming soon!

Take this course when it’s offered next!

Course Overview

This course will cover the basic design criteria of the rail car, its sub-systems and integration. We will discuss factors that affect the design, sizing, manufacturing and maintenance of the sub-systems of the rail car, including their integration with other sub-systems to work as one complete train. Various factors affecting reliability, accessibility and maintainability will be addressed.

*NOTE: THIS COURSE WILL ONLY BE AVAILABLE TO ATTEND ON-LINE.  The in-person option will no longer be provided.  The on-line course will be LIVE with the instructors and other attendees.  You will have the availability to ask questions live.

After attending this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the fundamental concepts of electric rail transportation, including propulsion, braking, power, and control
  • List the physical systems that comprise a vehicle
  • Differentiate between systems used in light, heavy and commuter rail applications
  • Explain a train control system architecture
  • Describe the integration of multiple systems and vendors’ products within a complete vehicle system
  • Develop a fleet procurement plan including proposals, design validation and verification of performance and reliability through testing
  • Create a plan to integrate new vehicles into existing operations
  • Describe the issues pertinent to the maintenance of new vehicle systems
  • Describe the need for Cybersecurity requirements, how to implement and validate it

Who Should Attend?

This course is geared toward transit engineering professionals and transit maintenance personnel who work for mass transit and commuter rail operating authorities, consultants, federal regulatory and investigative agencies.

  • Light Rail, Heavy Rail, Commuter Rail, and Streetcar Personnel
  • Authority Engineers, Operations Personnel, Maintainers, and Managers
  • Federal and State Regulators and Administrators
  • Equipment/Systems Manufacturers and Suppliers
  • Consultants

Course Outline

Overview of Car Types and Equipment Locations

Train Dynamics

  • Acceleration, deceleration, tractive effort, grades and curves
  • Adhesion, rotational inertia, speed time distance curve

Propulsion System

  • Route profile, AC Propulsion system, Dynamic brakes
  • Energy recovery/storage
  • Control Features

Friction Braking System

  • Physics and types of braking systems
  • Brake control and stop distance

Power Collection

  • Third rail power/Catenary power
  • AC and DC power supply systems
  • Rail gaps and phase breaks

Automatic Train Control and On-Car Interfaces

  • Implementation technology
  • Positive train control (PTC)


Vehicle Physical Systems

Door Systems

  • Types of doors, controls, and operation
  • Safety circuits and failsafe design


  • Button vs pin, Drum switch, Retractable
  • Safety

Auxiliary Power System

  • Design of auxiliary inverters
  • Calculating auxiliary loads and aux sizing
  • Starting sequencing

Low Voltage Power Supply/Battery System

  • Design of LVPS
  • Design of the battery charging system
  • Emergency loads
  • Types of batteries for rail application

Passenger Information Systems

  • Criticality and ADA
  • Destination signs, Voice announcements, WiFi


  • Distribution and Intensity
  • APTA emergency lighting requirements

Data Systems

  • Fault information and management system
  • Equipment logs (ATC, propulsion, etc.)
  • Event Recorders
  • Wayside communication and storage
  • Interface to maintenance systems


Integration, Reliability, and Procurement

Train Control Architecture

  • Physical trainlines, Networks, Failsafe design
  • Circuit examples

Vehicle System Integration

  • Challenges with multiple designers
  • Physical, Electrical, Software integration
  • Integration with wayside and environment


  • Reliability prediction
  • Availability and Maintainability
  • Safety, risk assessment, FMECAs
  • NFPA-130

Industry Standards and Regulations

  • Applicability of standards
  • Federal and state regulations

Fleet Procurement

  • Initial planning and Proposals
  • Design, Construction, Testing, and Delivery
  • System integration


  • Why is it important and factors to consider

Operations and Maintenance

Assimilation of rail fleet into existing rail systems

  • Operator and Maintenance training
  • Unique features of each property
  • Developing parts description and stocking inventory


  • Periodic maintenance
  • Time based, mileage based, condition based
  • Overhaul of sub-systems


James Dietz

James Dietz is a Senior Vice President (mostly retired) for Hatch in Philadelphia and has worked in the passenger rail transportation industry for over 40 years. Dietz spent 10 years working for GE in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he designed propulsion and auxiliary control systems for rail and off-highway vehicles. Subsequent to GE, he has worked for LTK (now part of Hatch) as a senior consultant for many rail procurements including for LIRR, MBTA, NYCT, PATH, and WMATA.  He is a founding member and past Chair of the IEEE Rail Transportation Standards Committee, where he has both led and participated in the development of IEEE rail standards.

Sachit Kakkar

Mr. Kakkar is a Professional Engineer with 33 years of operational, engineering and management experience in design, acquisitions, maintenance and reliability improvement of rolling stock equipment. Mr. Kakkar holds bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and Professional Engineering license from Washington, DC.

 Sachit Kakkar is the Deputy Chief Operating Officer – Bus & Rail for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He is responsible for day-to-day rail operations, maintenance of all rail vehicles, operational safety improvements, fleet reliability improvements, new fleet acquisition and fleet upgrades.  



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. He is also the Department Administrator for Interdisciplinary Professional Programs. Dave has a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering and an MBA from UWMadison.

Upcoming dates coming soon!

Take this course when it’s offered next!

Program Director

Dave Peterson

Contact Us

Create a custom learning experience

We can deliver this course as an on-site learning experience tailored to your organization’s specific training needs.