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.

2024 dates are yet to be confirmed.

If you would like us to reach out to you when information is available please email us on and we will place you on our expression of interest list.

All fees are inclusive of GST and including text book An Introduction to Railway Operations Planning, Nigel Harris et al, access to learning material through our e-learning site Canvas and catering (lunch).

The course will be held at the University of Sydney Business School CBD Campus, which is located at Level 17, Stockland Building, 133 Castlereagh Street, Sydney.

If you would like us to reach out to you when information is available please email us on and we will place you on our expression of interest list


  • "The course was one of the most beneficial activities I have ever completed by allowing me to compare my background with what occurs elsewhere in the world. It was great to hear from someone with as much knowledge and interest in train operations as Nigel. Highly recommended to anyone involved in the industry or has an interest in learning more."  - 2023
  • "We talked about integration and communicating with other areas of the rail system. Neil was an engaging and passionate presenter who made dry technical topics interesting"  - 2023
  • "I loved this course and learning from Nigel's vast experience! Even chatting with him informally at lunch I got to learn a lot.  It was fantastic to learn about different aspects of the railway and broaden my horizons. It showed me that the industry is very broad and that there's so much you could do in it. In terms of the course itself, very well taught, and very clear." - 2022