Last Updated S012019


Unit Code MRI602
Unit Duration 12 Weeks

Master of Engineering (Civil: Railway Infrastructure)

Duration: 2 years  

Year Level Two
Unit Creator / Reviewer John Powell
Core/Elective: Core
Pre/Co-requisites None
Credit Points



Masters total course credit points = 48

(3 credits x 12 (units) + 12 credits (Thesis))

Mode of Delivery Online or on-campus. 
Unit Workload

10 hours per week:

Lecture - 1 hour

Tutorial Lecture - 1 hours

Assessments / Practical / Lab - 1 hour (where applicable)

Personal Study recommended - 7 hours (guided and unguided)

Unit Description and General Aims

The sole purpose of track is to support the safe and speedy passage of trains carrying passengers, minerals, freight, primary produce, and so on. Although tracks can deteriorate due to environmental factors, the primary source of deterioration is the passage of trains.

Operators want trains to carry larger and larger payloads at ever higher speeds, which induce increasingly large static and dynamic forces on the track. These forces deteriorate the track, this then leads to a rougher ride for the trains, causing even higher dynamic forces down into the track and up into the vehicle.

This Unit is intended to provide students with an understanding of the interaction between track and trains. It builds on and further develops student knowledge of track elements and structure, as discussed in the earlier Units of this Master’s program, by providing an explanation of vehicle design and discussing incidents such as train derailments.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this Unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Evaluate influencing factors contributing to track-train interaction consequences.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  2. Critically judge and solve problems related to train-track interaction issues.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  3. Design a conceptual track alignment for different traffic tasks.
    • Bloom’s Level 6
  4. Validate and test relevant information to determine appropriate maintenance and rectification strategies for track and vehicles resulting from their interaction.
    • Bloom’s Level 5
  5. Recommend track geometry standards required for different traffic tasks.
    • Bloom’s Level 5

Student assessment

Assessment Type

(e.g. Assignment - 2000 word essay (specify topic)

Examination (specify length and format))
When assessed (eg Week 5) Weighting (% of total unit marks) Learning Outcomes Assessed

Assessment 1

Type: Report

Word length: 1500

Topic: Specify track geometry standards and describe the basis of their selection for a new railway of a type relevant to the student.  

Week 4 20% 3,5

Assessment 2

Type: Case Study, Group Discussion and Evaluation

Word length: N/A

Topic: The student is to contribute progressively to an unfolding discussion amongst their peers in this Unit on solving a track-train interaction problem. They are required to role-play a member of an interaction committee formed to solve an interface issue.

Week 7 25% 1, 2, 4

Assessment 3

Type: Report and Presentation (Final Project)

Word length: 2000

Topic: Prepare a comprehensive engineering report on a case study related to the introduction of a new train operator on an existing railway network with the primary focus being on the track-train interface issues and how they can be managed. The report will require careful referencing and be suitable in its format, quality of analysis, and conclusions for decision-making by senior engineers.

Embedded practical component: Students are to research and interact with software simulations, that demonstrate track dynamics and train-track interaction, to be referenced and/or demonstrated in their final report (acceptable examples include Adams/rail, NUCARS, Vampire, LUSAS, MATLAB, Solidworks).

Week 12 50% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Continuous 5% 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Prescribed and Recommended readings

Required Textbook(s)

Reference Materials

A number of books, peer-reviewed journals, and websites as advised below:

Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.


Topic 1 and 2

Geometry Elements

  1. Track geometry for mainline and yards
  2. Horizontal alignment elements
  3. Vehicles on straights and horizontal curves
  4. Transition curves
  5. Vertical alignment elements
  6. Trains on grades and vertical curves
  7. Grade compensation and ruling grades

Topic 3 and 4

Measuring and Managing Track Geometry

  1. Alignment design vs. field geometry
  2. Track geometry degradation
  3. Principles of track geometry measurement
  4. Geometry measurement methods
  5. Track geometry and ride/ derailment conditions
  6. Track geometry standards
  7. Treatment of track geometry defects and condition
  8. Track geometry maintenance management

Topic 5 and 6


  1. Locomotives
  2. Rollingstock
  3. Basic vehicle design
  4. Bogies
  5. Wheels

Topic 6


  1. Integration process and Estimation
  2. Substitution Method
  3. Reimann Sums
  4. The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus
  5. Definite Integrals
  6. Standard Integrals

Topic 7

Track Loading

  1. The track structure
  2. The applied static loads
  3. The applied dynamic loads

Topic 8

Vehicle – Track Interaction

  1. Conicity
  2. Behaviour in straight (tangent) track
  3. Behaviour in curved track
  4. Wheel unloading and wheel climb
  5. Derailment

Topic 9


  1. Vertical
  2. Lateral
  3. Longitudinal

Topic 10 and 11

Some Consequences of Track – Train Interaction

  1. Rail and wheel wear
  2. Rail and wheel defects
  3. Noise
  4. Vibration
  5. Derailment

Topic 12

Project and Unit Review

In the final week students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far.  Opportunity will be provided for a review of student work and to clarify any outstanding issues.  Instructors/facilitators may choose to cover a specialised topic if applicable to that cohort.

Engineers Australia

The Australian Engineering Stage 1 Competency Standards for the Professional Engineer, approved as of 2013. This table is referenced in the mapping of graduate attributes to learning outcomes and via the learning outcomes to student assessment.

Stage 1 Competencies and Elements Competency
1. Knowledge and Skill Base
1.1 Comprehensive, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.
1.2 Conceptual understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the engineering discipline.
1.3 In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.
1.4 Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within the engineering discipline.
1.5 Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline.
1.6 Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of sustainable engineering practice in the specific discipline.
2. Engineering Application Ability
2.1 Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.
2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.
2.3 Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.
2.4 Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering projects.
3. Professional and Personal Attributes
3.1 Ethical conduct and professional accountability.
3.2 Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.
3.3 Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanor.
3.4 Professional use and management of information.
3.5 Orderly management of self and professional conduct.
3.6 Effective team membership and team leadership.

Software/Hardware Used


  • Software: N/A

  • Version: N/A

  •  Instructions: N/A

  •  Additional resources or files: N/A


  • Hardware: N/A