About this online course


Use a systems approach to monitoring and maintenance of railway assets to enhance their performance and availability, and optimize the use of railway infrastructure and rolling stock from an integral perspective.

New technologies applied in railway systems present new challenges. But they also bring opportunities for improving railway operations. As a railway professional, the correct evaluation of advantages and disadvantages of sensing technologies, together with the physical knowledge of the system, will allow you to make use of monitoring data to anticipate defects, make maintenance decisions and tailor appropriate maintenance plans to prevent failures.

Optimal preventive actions

To enable timely preventive maintenance, continuous awareness of the status of the assets is essential. By predicting defects through health condition monitoring and assessing the life cycle costs of maintenance operations, we can determine the optimal preventive maintenance actions, to ensure safety at all times while minimizing costs. In order to understand possible failures and overall rail performance and behavior, the course examines detailed examples of rail defects and maintenance, such as rolling contact fatigue in wheel and rail, wheel and rail geometry, tribology of wheel-rail systems (Wheel-Rail Friction Conditioning).

After taking the course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the differences between reactive, preventive, predictive and condition-based maintenance.
  • Apply an understanding of the physical background of rail dynamics and tribology to maintenance operations.
  • Analyse performance indicators for railway design, performance management and life cycle management.
  • Design an integral monitoring and maintenance solution using a systems perspective for a real-life case study drawn from the railway industry.

The future lies in monitoring train and asset quality to determine preventive maintenance actions and minimize life-cycle-costs while maintaining safety. During this course, theoretical knowledge based on real-life examples is used to understand the complex challenges of system performance in railways. Maintenance operations are vital in avoiding defects and optimizing the performance of the whole system over time.

The Professional Certificate Program in Railway Engineering is endorsed by:


Course Syllabus:

Week 1: Defects and Failures
What are the causes of common disruptions in a railway system? How can a combination of factors lead to serious consequences? Which sensitive components experience most defects and why? What are the failure modes that cause these problems?

Week 2: Repairs and maintenance
How do defects in one part of the system influence the technical performance of other elements? What are the essential maintenance activities in railway systems? Should we repair while the track is open for business? How can we plan and execute smart repairs and modular-based solutions?

Week 3: Degradation processes
What are the causes of the degradation seen in railway tracks? How do fatigue and wear progress over time? What are the typical characteristics of these degradation processes? When and how will rolling contact fatigue show up and what can you do to minimize this?

Week 4: Strategic monitoring
Why is monitoring important for railway systems? How can we monitor the degradation processes in railways and establish an efficient monitoring system? How can we design key performance indicators to improve rail maintenance? How can structural health monitoring help in real-time monitoring of the whole system?

Week 5: Maintenance optimization
What drives maintenance, and how are decisions to perform maintenance arrived at? What are life cycle costs and RAMS (Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety) in view of the maintenance decision making? How can monitoring data support and enhance maintenance decision making?

Week 6: Case study
How can we make better decisions about extended monitoring or planned preventive maintenance? How can we prepare for the possible need for reactive maintenance? In this week you will put all the knowledge you have acquired in this course to the test. You will work on a project on the monitoring and maintenance of a railway asset, in which you will apply a systems approach to decision making using and analysing data from a real-life situation. You will use a set of given KPIs and take into account safety factors, costs, time and planning aspects, performance data and the user perspective. With these you will experience first-hand how smart and long-term strategies, where maintenance is done preventively rather than reactively, can positively affect overall outcomes.

Receive personal feedback

In this course, you will receive feedback from our world-class instructors and will have the opportunity to interact with peers from different countries and other institutions in the field of railway engineering.

Follow our full program

Advance your career in Railway Engineering and learn to provide the best solutions for railway systems by taking our full program.

This course is one of a series of professional education courses devoted to railway engineering. If you are interested in developing a comprehensive and integrated systems perspective on railway engineering, join the full Professional Certificate Program, which consists of three courses and a Capstone Project.

As the first part of the program, this course will provide you with an integrated knowledge of rail systems that you will later use to develop strategies to optimize the capacity of the rolling stock and improve the system's reliability and performance through better monitoring and maintenance decisions.

The subsequent courses in this series are:

  • Railway Engineering: Track and Train Interaction
  • Railway Engineering: Real Time Operations
  • Railway Engineering: Capstone Project

The program closes with a Capstone Project in which you will work on a design project that integrates the knowledge and skills gained from the three courses. You will work on either your own project or on a project provided by the course team, and you will receive personalized guidance and feedback throughout.

Overall, this full program will enable rail professionals in managerial or advisory roles to develop a good operational understanding of a systems view of railway networks to enhance the quality of their investment decisions, innovation initiatives, analysis of technical failures, project documentation and system optimization.



If you successfully complete this course you will earn a professional education certificate and you are eligible to receive 3.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs).


This course is primarily geared towards working professionals.

To fully benefit from this course you should have basic knowledge and working experience in railways.

If you wish to pursue the full Professional Certificate Program in Railway Engineering we recommend that you follow the courses in the suggested order, as it has been designed so that knowledge is acquired gradually. However, you may choose to enroll in any course of your choice based on your background knowledge or experience.

Suggested order of courses:

  • Railway Engineering: Track and Train Interaction
  • Railway Engineering: Real Time Operations
  • Railway Engineering: Performance over Time

In order to complete your enrollment you will be asked to upload the following document:

  • a copy of your passport or ID card (no driver's license)


If you have any questions about this course or the TU Delft online learning environment, please visit our Help & Support page.

Enroll now

  • Starts: Sep 02, 2020
  • Fee: € 450
  • Enrollment open until: Aug 26, 2020
  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Effort: 4 - 5 hours per week
  • Program Fee: € 1600 (4 courses)

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