Railroad Track Construction Project Management


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Course Overview

When it comes to railroad construction, can you support and mentor the superintendents and engineers assigned to your project? Do you have the ability to administer the project from all aspects? And, can you communicate effectively with your colleagues and accurately estimate project cost and time? If you answered "no" or "I'm not sure" to any of these questions, it's time to gain some confidence so you can say "yes." Enroll in this railroad construction course from UW-Madison and tackle railroad engineering projects with ease.

Who Should Attend?

  • Railroad contractors 
  • Railroad engineers 
  • Railroad public project managers 
  • Local/state/federal personnel 
  • Consulting engineers involved in the design, construction, and operation of railroad projects

Course Outline

The Process of a Project

  • Concept 
  • EIS 
  • Funding 
  • Design 
  • RFP
  • Pre–qualification 
  • Types of contracts 
  • The estimate 
  • Award 
  • Construction 
  • Testing 
  • Revenue service 
  • O & M 

Estimating the Job 

  • The estimating process 
  • The estimate 
  • The bid review 
  • The award 
  • An exercise in estimating 

The Preparation Phase 

  • The handoff 
  • The pre–planning manual 
  • Project overview 
  • Means and methods 
  • The schedule 
  • Safety and health plan 
  • Staffing and labor requirements 
  • Materials/subs 
  • QA/QC procedures 
  • Cost controls 
  • Contract and administrative 
  • Project and controls 
  • Checklists and meetings 
  • Build it on paper first 

Planning Tools and Techniques 

  • Schematic time-lapse exercise 

The Schedule 

  • Making a schedule 
  • Critical path 
  • Dealing with schedule float 


  • Equipment and tools 
  • Examples and videos 

The Execution 

  • Build the job 
  • The schedule 
  • Managing subs 
  • Attendance 
  • Discipline and information 
  • Planning techniques and identifying change orders 
  • Reviews 
  • The close out 

Job Descriptions 

  • Who is responsible for what? 
  • The project manager, superintendent, project engineer 
  • Facts about productivity 

Making a Track Chart 

  • Cost Controls 
  • Do you want to make money? 
  • Tracking and forecasting the easy way 

Claims and Delays 

  • To litigate or negotiate, that is the question 
  • Contract language 

The Close Out 

  • Risk Management 
  • A few exercises 


  • The five C’s 
  • Developing people 
  • Managing people and performance 

Soft Skills and Ethics 

  • Motivating techniques 
  • Why projects fail 
  • Developing a team 

Communication and Listening Skills 

Lessons Learned and Final Thoughts 

  • Why projects fail 
  • Case studies: The good, the bad, and the ugly


"This was an amazing course. The best training I've had to date."
—Josh Collins, Registered Engineer TKDA Woodbury, Minnesota

"Teacher was very knowledgeable and dynamic."
—Eugene Chuang, Owner Garg Consulting Services Rocky Hill, Connecticut

"I liked the depth of knowledge of the instructor and I liked the class discussions and questions."
—Thomas McQuillan, Construction Project Engineer SEC Group, Inc. Yorkville, Illinois


John Zuspan

John Zuspan is President of Track Guy Consultants in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. John started as a track laborer and worked his way up to foreman and director of the track divison at Slattery/Skanska and vice president for Balfour Beatty Rail. He has managed the trackwork, reviewed all design packages, and has had final authority for approval on many large scale projects. John currently leads the National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association’s (NRC) Safety Committee and has led the efforts to produce many safety training DVDs for railroad contractors. He is a dedicated teacher and trainer.

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.

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Take this course when it’s offered next!

Program Director

Dave Peterson

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