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Aerial view of many trains

Railway Planning and Operations Program

The Railway Planning and Operations program introduces students to the key elements of railway planning and operations.

The course is delivered by Dr Nigel Harris, one of Britain's leading railway planners. With a career beginning in technical advances in fares policy research at Newcastle University, Dr Harris also has substantial experience in network modelling that he gained during eight years at London Underground.

Dr Harris also has in-depth expertise in service planning, operational simulation, demand forecasting, scheme appraisal and railway business planning in many different countries, giving him one of the best understandings of railway economics.

The Railway Planning and Operations Program aims to cover the following topics:

Management & business planning

  • Objectives, efficiency, market positioning;


  • Underlying economic drivers, cyclical issues, externalities: road v rail, operational factors driving profitability;


  • Generalised cost, value of time saved, elasticities, fares policy implications;

Railway Structure & Ownership;

  • Railway privatisation, fragmentation, franchising, funding, failure of Railtrack;

Rail freight

  • Understanding trends, cost structures, and different types of operation;

Safety & Signalling

  • Historical development through to automatic systems, accident analysis, risk management

Infrastructure design

  • Line capacity, train graphs, impact of different numbers of tracks, junction & station layouts;
  • Case study: Fen Line, England;

Timetabling & rostering

  • Appropriate frequencies, conflicting requirements, practical applications, regularity & basic interval timetabling, inter-working, number of trains required, trade-offs with punctuality, staff rostering;

Assignments will focus your knowledge and learnings on generalised costs, train graphs and train requirements.

The Railway Planning and Operations Program 2021 has ended.

Please email to place your name for “Expression of interest” for course in 2022. Please indicate whether it is your preference to participate in person or online.

Format for 2022 yet to be determined.