In the railway sector there is a growing demand for engineers with integral knowledge of rail engineering. Today there is a severe lack of professionals who have a thoughtful understanding of their own subject and can understand the basics from other disciplines. The rail branch focuses too much on managerial expertise and transportable generic competences with an emphasis on process and procedures rather than technical knowledge. Anyone can be effective by throwing tons of money at a problem but it takes craftsmanship and technical knowledge to come with the solutions the railway industry needs so badly.
Innovation is still practised mainly by words only and less with actions. Thomas Edison, all-round inventor and pioneer of the electrified railways, once said “opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. Indeed, to achieve the system leap that can take the railways to the next phase of development, the rail industry (especially in the Netherland) needs a mentality and approach that takes engineering and innovation seriously. The Dutch rail network is a complex system with metro type of traffic patterns through heavy rail rolling stock. High frequency local train services have to be combined with long distance international passenger and freight traffic. Less time for maintenance and repair of the track, meaningful use of big data analysis and solutions that can make the signalling and traffic management system robust and less vulnerable for distortions are indeed the challenges for a new generation of rail engineers.
As a response to the demand for skilled rail engineer experts that can take on these challenges, the faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences of TU Delft has developed a two year post master programme with a Structural & Railway Engineering track. The Professional Doctorate in Engineering (PDEng) programme focuses on innovations for the civil and railway industry and the development of knowledge and practical experience in the field of design, construction, finance and maintenance which is important for a position as senior engineer. The programme starts in September 2017.