Dr. George F. List

Dr. George F. List

Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering

Phone: 919-515-8038
Fax: 919-515-7908
Instructor Website

CE 505 Railroad System Planning, Design, and Operation

3 Credit Hours

Students will learn about railroad technology and how to plan, design, and operate rail systems especially the design of alignments, track, and terminals; and the operation of freight and passenger services [ranging from transit through commuter rail to intercity and high speed rail].


Traffic Engineering (NC State 305) AND

Introduction to Operations Research (NC State OR 501) or its equivalent

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, the graduate and undergraduate students will be able to. . .

  • Explain the history and development of railroad technology.
  • Explain the details of railroad rolling stock (cars, locomotives, etc.) and the impacts that these characteristics have on the design of the physical infrastructure.
  • Design alignments suitable for different types of freight and passenger services.
  • Design the track, switches, interlockings, terminals, yards, stations, and other components of the physical infrastructure used by freight and passenger railroads
  • Evaluate the economics of different types of freight and passenger systems
  • Design plans for freight and passenger railroad operations
  • Explain the unique features of high speed rail and rail transit systems and the directions in which future development of these technologies is headed
  • Conduct a thorough analysis of a design, operating, or economic issue facing the railroad industry and indicate, in a paper, how advanced analytical tools can be used to develop ways to make the services safer, more reliable, and more economical.

Course Requirements

Component Weight Details
Mid-Term Exam 20% Questions about the design of freight and passenger railroad systems especially as affected by equipment characteristics.
Final Exam 25% Questions about freight service operations and economics, transit system design and operation, and high-speed rail system design and operation.
Term Paper 20% The graduate students are required to prepare a paper. It should be suitable for submission to a conference or an archival journal. One option is a thorough analysis of a design, operating, or economic issue presently facing the railroad industry. Another is a critique of an analytical tool including a demonstration of how it can be used to make design simpler or operations safer, more reliable, and more economical.
Class Trips – Virtual 10% Two virtual visits are required, one freight and one passenger. A trip report must be prepared for each. Adequate information must be available on-line for a facility to be chosen. Suggestions can be provided.
Homework (5 assignments) 25% Exercises in 1) alignment development, 2) geometric design, 3) train dispatching, 4) hump yard and intermodal terminal design and operation, and 5) rail transit station design.


Optional, but recommended

Railroad Management and EngineeringV.A. Profillidis
Edition: 4th
ISBN: 1409464636
Web Link:

Computer and Software Requirements

Please review the minimum computer specifications that NC State University and Engineering Online recommend.

Updated: 10/28/2022