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Current challenges for rail engineers are to maintain and improve today’s railway to meet the business need for improved performance at a reduced price; to design a railway for the future while managing transitions from systems using very old components and to embrace technology so that rail services are reliable methods of transport.

The main components of a railway system are trains, track, bridges, earthworks, drainage and environment, electrical power systems and fixed plant, train control systems, telecoms and data management. As a rail engineering technician, you’ll build and service the mechanical and electrical systems on train engines and rolling stock. The role is varied and can include developing products, managing part of a railway system, building new engines and carriages, inspecting bodywork, roofs and under-carriages for wear and tear, repairing and replacing parts and writing reports and maintenance records.

Working closely with other craftspeople, such as carpenters and painters, for most of these, hand and power tools will be used and technical drawings and instructions followed. Working environment will mostly be in a rail depot or engineering workshop, with time on the sidings. Employment opportunities include train operating companies, London Underground, light rail and metro companies and rail freight and leasing firms.

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