In the compulsory area of the Master's degree program in Vehicle Technology and Transport - we offer five advanced modules in the Rail Vehicle Technology specialization. These are also part of the Master's program Railway Systems Engineer of Faculty 3.

Depending on the chosen course of study, the lecture and exercise are offered in German or English.


Rail Vehicle Vibration Dynamics

The lecture deals primarily with the description of the influence of vertical excitations on the rail vehicle as a rigid body system capable of vibration and the evaluation of the vibration response with respect to driving safety, track stress, suspension design and vibration comfort.

After an introduction, it is explained how and under which conditions vibration substitute models can be formed and simplified. Using the simplest substitute model of the damped single-mass oscillator, the solution approaches of free and forced oscillations known from mechanics are repeated. The understanding is deepened by numerous vehicle engineering examples. The description of the roadway excitation follows before the common evaluation methods for the above mentioned criteria are presented. The model is then extended to the dual-mass transducer before discussing vibration systems with nonlinear identification and improvements in ride comfort and safety.

Finally, a brief introduction to longitudinal vibrations follows.

Sfz II: lecture in German language (V2/Ü2)

Contact: Martin Rakowitsch, M.Sc.

RV II: lecture in English language (L2/E2)

Contact: Stefan.Lipinski, M.Sc.


Track Guidance Technology

The track guidance represents the most important distinguishing characteristic between road and rail vehicles. The lecture deals with the function of the mechanical track guidance system wheel/rail. In particular, the aspects "safety against derailment", "running stability" and "wheel/rail closure" are examined.

First, the geometries and positions of wheel and rail, wheelset and track, and switches and crossings are presented. The first concern with derailment safety is from a geometric point of view. Then the forces and moments in the wheel/rail contact are derived including various force closure theories. After that, the determination of derailment safety at slow curve exit can be dealt with. The horizontal motion behavior of the wheelset is first described purely kinematically.

Before the dynamic description of the wheelset motion is presented, the terms "equivalent conicity" and "effective wheel profile" must be introduced. With the analysis of the motion behavior of the free-rolling wheelset, a derailment aspect can also be dealt with here, namely that of the critical running speed. The same is then done for the idler pair. This is followed by a treatment of the curved motion of the wheelset, before a qualitative discussion of the straight and curved motion behavior of various two-axle bogies.

Finally, an introduction to the method of multibody system simulation is given.

Sfz III: lecture in German language (V2/Ü2)

Contact: Pascal Gil, M.Sc.

RV III: lecture in English language (V2/Ü2)

Contact: Pascal Gil, M.Sc.


Module: Applied Rail Vehicle Technology

From winter term 2018/19 the module "Applied Rail Vehicle Technology" is offered.
The module is comprised of two parts:


Part 1: Vehicle Systems and Components

This course deals with the design and function of the most important subsystems and components of rail vehicles, with a focus on locomotives and passenger vehicles. Starting with the largest subsystem, the car body, for which there are a number of construction methods and which is briefly described in terms of design, an overview is given of the most important attachments, such as traction/impact equipment, transitions and front ends.

The running gear, as the mechanically most important and complex subsystem of the rail vehicle, is then discussed in great detail. A wide variety of designs are covered according to application and from the point of view of track guidance and traction. Important running gear assemblies and components, such as the frame, suspensions, wheelset guidance, drive connection and connection to the car body are then presented, until finally the wheelset and idler pair are discussed. The lecture series concludes with the traction and brake equipment as other important subsystems.

Sfz IV, Part 1: lecture in German language (V2/Ü0)

Contact: Paul Schneider, M.Sc.


Part 2: Railway vehicle technology laboratory

Through the practice-related theoretical lecture material in Part 1: "Rail Vehicle Systems and Components", Part 2: "Rail Vehicle Technology Laboratory" creates the link between theory and practice by working on measurement tasks ranging from the simple to the standard used in the industry. Depending on the thama, e.g. comfort measurement or track position measurement, a theoretical introduction is given first before the experiments are carried out in a real environment.

The topics of the labs are: Modal Analysis, Level Crossing, Comfort Measurement, Brake, Test Beam, Track Position and Tractive Force Measurement.

Sfz IV, Part 2: exercise in German language (V0/Ü2)

Contact: Paul Schneider, M.Sc.


Product Development in Rail Vehicle Engineering

The special features of the rail vehicle product as a capital good in contrast to the consumer good motor vehicle are elaborated. This is followed by an overview of the usual product development process in the rail vehicle industry, starting with the Europe-wide invitation to tender by the mostly publicly owned transport companies. This is followed by a description of the project processing of a rail vehicle order with the manufacturer. In particular, the aspects of project management and product development are highlighted. Frequent reference is made to common product development methods, such as those according to VDI Guidelines 2206 and 2221, and their most important contents are discussed with reference to the rail vehicle product.

In the further course, the basics of project management, such as project team composition, project controlling, cost and risk management are dealt with. Measures to increase efficiency in engineering and to hedge risks are also presented before the downstream but very important processes of approval and commissioning are discussed.

Sfz V: lecture in German language (V2/Ü2)

Contact: Carolina Archut, M.Sc. RWTH


Structural Integrity of Railway Vehicles (Sfz VI), V1/Ü0

Ensuring the strength of the load-bearing components of a rail vehicle is one of the most important tasks in the development of these products. In particular, the market requirement that the load-bearing structures must serve for at least 30 years without significant failure places high demands on wheelsets, chassis frames and car bodies. The wheelsets must be designed for 'safe life' in any case, as there is no fall-back level. In addition to the design against rare very high loads and permanently occurring fatigue loads, the carriage body must also be designed to be collision-proof.

This event initially focuses on the strength and collision safety-compliant design of the car body and the corresponding verification procedure, as well as the strength design of the chassis frame and wheelsets.

Lecture in German language.
Lecturer: Dr. Burkhard Arras, Siemens Mobility GmbH, Krefeld and Dr. Alois Starlinger, Stadler Rheintal Ag, St. Margarethen, Suisse

Contact: Praesenna Ranganatan, M.Sc.


Digitalization in Rail Vehicle Technology (Sfz VII)

The lecture "Digitalization in Rail Vehicle Technology" (discusses current trends, challenges, and prospects of digitalization of railways.

It is comprised of lectures, guest lectures from leading industry experts as well as seminars, where students present and   discuss their findings regarding a self-chosen topic related to the courses content. Alternatively, the students can choose from a handful of pre-selected presentation topics.

In addition to the presentation a short seminar paper must be submitted by the end of the course accompanying the student's presentations. Beneath teaching students about digitalization in the railway environments the students have the chance to improve their presentation and scientific writing skills. Both the presentation and the seminar paper make up the final grade. The course is intended for a group size of up to 20 students.

Ansprechpartner: Philipp Leibner, M.Sc


Dates of the offered modules

Current lecture and exercise dates

The lecture and exercise dates of all courses from IFS for the current semester can be found in RWTHonline at:


Rail Vehicle Engineering exams information

Faculty curriculum plans