University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Interdisciplinary Professional Programs

Introduction to Railroad Engineering and Operations See upcoming dates

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 Project Manager-Rail with WSP in Chicago with 44 years of experience in the design, construction and maintenance of rail transit and railroad projects. He has been employed by Class 1 railroads, a transit agency, a contractor and as a consultant.  He has held senior engineering and project management roles in dozens of transit, rail, and highway projects throughout the United States and 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 44 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 34 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, Africa, and the Middle East. 

Upcoming dates (1)