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MSc Railway Engineering

The master's programme in Railway Engineering explores railways from a systems perspective, blending mechanical, civil and electrical engineering. You will study at KTH and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and learn to design vehicles, infrastructure and control systems for safe, efficient and sustainable transportation. Investments in railways are rising worldwide to decarbonise passenger transport and freight, creating a vast demand for skilled railway engineers.

Master's programme in Railway Engineering

Application deadlines for studies starting August 2024

16 October (2023): Application opens
15 January: Last day to apply
1 February: Submit documents and, if required, pay application fee
21 March: Admission results announced

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Railway Engineering at KTH

Railway transport is experiencing a worldwide renaissance. It offers substantial economic benefits, energy efficiency, and environmental and safety benefits compared to road transport. Railway transport can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, one of the primary sources of global warming. As a result, passenger railways such as trains, trams and subways are being built in many regions of the world to meet the growing demand for mobility, sustainability and increasing urbanisation. At the same time, the European Commission has set targets to shift more road freight to rail transport to reduce emissions and congestion. This move towards railways has created a substantial demand for engineers with an integrated knowledge of railway subsystems (infrastructure, vehicles and traffic control) who understand how to maximise the performance of the whole system.

The master's programme in Railway Engineering is among the very few programmes in the world that cover all aspects of rail engineering, and none offers the international perspective afforded by this one. KTH offset the programme in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), where all students in the programme spend one semester.

The programme focuses on the system aspect, which is extremely important in railway systems. Vehicle, infrastructure and control systems have to be designed to work optimally together. Therefore, the programme contains courses in mechanical, civil and electrical engineering. The programme starts with mandatory courses during the autumn semester. You will meet different active researchers in the field in the seminar-based course on research methodology with a connection to sustainable development for a climate-neutral society. You will also gain a solid understanding of the system as a whole, mixing online courses from UIUC and onsite courses at KTH, combining the best aspects of these universities. For example, you will learn the fundamental economics of rail transportation, decision-making and optimisation, consideration of railroad rolling stock design, running gear and other mechanical components, such as the train braking system, and design a commuter-type train in project task. During the first spring semester, there is a mix of mandatory and conditionally elective courses in which you can start to tailor your path. During the third semester, particular emphasis is placed on the unique engineering elements of high-speed railway engineering technology. At UIUC, you are allowed to continue forming and strengthening your path, selecting conditionally elective courses that will eventually end up in the last semester's thesis work. As field trips and design and analysis tools for rail systems are a natural part of the programme, you will have a solid base when starting your master's’s degree project in the last semester.

The programme is mainly based on classes, with lectures, assignments and exams, but also includes projects and individual studies. All teachers are active researchers and will include new research trends in their course content. During the final semester, you will carry out a master's’s degree project. Many students carry out their degree projects in industry with a railway operator or a consultancy company.

This is a two-year programme (120 ECTS credits) given in English. Graduates are awarded the degree of Master of Science. The programme is given mainly at KTH Campus in Stockholm by the School of Engineering Sciences (at KTH).

Collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC)

About half of the courses are given by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) and KTH, respectively, and the programme includes international mobility. At least 15 ECTS credits must be taken on-site at the partner university. Many courses for this programme are taught online by KTH and UIUC exclusively. Please note; due to US visa regulations, there is no guarantee that fee-paying students can study in the US. If the visa is denied, these students will be offered an alternative study plan.

Programme Presentation

In this webinar recording from October 2023, you will learn everything you need to know about the master's programme in Railway Engineering. Programme director Ellen Bergseth and student Sharanya host the webinar.

Topics covered

Vehicle and track design, vehicle-track interaction, traction systems, railway signalling systems, high-speed rail systems and railway traffic planning.

​​​​​ Courses in the programme


Find out what students from the programme think about their time at KTH.

Muhammad from Indonesia

"The best aspect of the programme is that we are learning railway engineering as one package. It gives us a broad point of view to understand the railway as a whole system but still can-do deep learning at the point of our interest."

Muhammad from Indonesia

Meet the students


The technical challenges associated with meeting the growing demand for railway transportation in an efficient and sustainable manner require a considerable number of engineers with an education in the field of railways worldwide. A large percentage of railway industry engineering staff are nearing retirement; consequently, there is a strong and growing demand for graduates with an education in railway engineering. With one focus of the programme being system aspects, it is foreseen that many graduates will hold management positions in the organisations they work in.

The programme provides an excellent basis for pursuing a career in the global vehicle industry, at consultancy companies, research institutes, and universities. The cooperation between the Swedish industry and the Department of Engineering Mechanics is very close. There are several major ongoing research programmes in which KTH, key manufacturers and the transport administration are involved. Both universities also offer the possibility of continuing as a PhD student. Graduates from the master's programme in Railway Engineering are strong candidates for the limited number of positions available. 

After graduation

Vehicle or track design engineer, signalling engineer, procurement or maintenance engineer at an operator, researcher or railway consultant.

"My best memory is when I conducted the degree project at the Rail Vehicles division. Furthermore, the exchange semester at UIUC was also a great opportunity and memorable, especially when you were there with friends."

Prapanpong Damsongsaeng, PhD student at KTH

Meet the graduates

Sustainable development

Graduates from KTH have the knowledge and tools for moving society in a more sustainable direction, as sustainable development is an integral part of all programmes. The international environment of the master's programme in Railway Engineering provides different societal perspectives that will be very helpful for understanding global sustainability challenges. The three key sustainable development goals addressed by the programme are:

Sustainable development goal 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Sustainable development goal 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
Sustainable development goal 13. Climate Action

Due to the inherent climate-positive qualities of railway systems, all courses incorporate sustainability-related knowledge. You will acquire a systems perspective that forms the basis for rethinking transportation while allowing you to design and create innovative solutions for various challenges, for example, tackling climate change. You will learn how to contribute toward global sustainable development by using your expert knowledge, technical breadth and international experience. The railway is also vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events, flooding and heat waves that can damage infrastructure and disrupt operations. Throughout your studies, you will acquire the skills to make the railway more resilient and adaptable to these challenges.

The broad array of courses in the programme will engage you in different technical and societal aspects directly related to sustainability, such as designing technical solutions with demands on energy and material consumption or human-centred aspects such as comfort, interoperability and smart transport ecosystems. In the master's degree project, you will expand your knowledge about technological development and project management in relation to sustainability.

Railways will play an essential role in the sustainability of our societies as we know them. As a railway systems expert with a strong international perspective, you can join any work group around the world, work with other experts in adjacent fields, and lead the development of technical innovations that contribute toward a sustainable infrastructure system, energy-efficient transportation and climate-friendly technical innovations.

Faculty and research

The multidisciplinary nature of the master's programme in Railway Engineering is reflected in the research groups that compose KTH Railway Group. The programme is hosted at the School of Engineering Sciences. Still, railway-related research is carried out at four of KTH's schools: Engineering Sciences, Architecture and Built Environment, Industrial Engineering and Management, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Faculty and research in Railway Engineering

Virtual campus tour

Siwat from Thailand is a student at the School of Engineering Sciences (at KTH). In the virtual tour he and some other KTH students will show you around the campuses.

Next step

Explore KTH

Visit our campuses through an immersive digital tour where our students guide you through their favourit KTH spots.

Ikon med mobiltelefon och brev. Grafisk illustration.


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