Rail engineering is a complex field which deals with all the different facets of a railway, from designing and building railways and stations, to operating and maintaining the rail systems.
Rail engineers are focused on the challenges of trying to improve Britain’s existing railway network and trains while using an ageing infrastructure, including some bridges and viaducts that were built in the days of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
The public now expects the railway to run seven days a week at 100 percent reliability – rail engineering jobs are all created with that task in mind.
There are several different roles that fall into the category of ‘rail engineer’, with some focused on maintenance while others are more about improving the rail network.
Site engineer jobs in rail.
The site engineer on a railway is responsible for managing the detail of a construction project and ensuring that nothing is overlooked. The job of a site engineer involves checking up on each element of the building work to ensure that it meets all the proper standards.
This means a site engineer needs to pay great attention to detail and have a meticulous approach to their work each day. Some of their tasks include providing a daily diary of work completed, doing detailed drawings of work that has actually been completed, especially where it differs from the plan, and managing subcontractors.
They also need to liaise with the client and share responsibility for health and safety issues during construction.
Section engineer jobs rail.
A section engineer’s job is to translate the plans for a railway construction project from the page to the ground – in other words, making sure that the building or vehicle is built as closely as possible to the plans. This means mustering all the resources, from building materials to finding sub-contractors, and monitoring the work to make sure it’s done properly.
Day to day tasks of a section engineer involve doing the setting out – placing markers for different elements of the build like platforms or lift shafts, setting out a weekly programme for the works to be done, and carrying out inspections of work done so far.
Structural engineer jobs in rail.
Structural engineering jobs involve designing the framework that hold together a building or structure like a locomotive or railway carriage. Sometimes this would simply involve analysing existing structures to see if they can be repurposed – for example, establishing whether a bridge might support a heavier train, or if a section of track might be able to cope with the stresses of a high-speed train.
The tasks of a structural engineer often focus more on design than building, so they need to be able to design using a wide variety of materials, produce accurate drawings and provide reports showing the specifications of the buildings or vehicles they are designing.
Civil engineer jobs in rail.
A civil engineer is responsible for planning, desi gning or maintaining railway track and stations, or structures such as bridges or tunnels. This is typically a more generalised or strategic role in the rail industry and civil engineers would often parcel out specific tasks to specialists like structural engineers, section engineers and site engineers.
A civil engineer may start a job by discussing the requirements with an architect and the client. They move on to analysing the site, drawing up blueprints, assessing risks, costs and time required, before moving on to manage the construction work, including dealing with contractors.
Growing opportunities in rail engineering.
Several major rail projects in Britain area already underway, like Crossrail in London and other projects are in the pipeline such as HS2, the high-speed railway linking London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.
This means there are growing numbers of rail engineering jobs involved in the construction of these projects – as well as more than 30 other significant rail infrastructure projects in the UK and Ireland.