Short Course Dates Announced
The Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at the University of Illnois at Urbana-Champaign invites you to attend the Railway Engineering Short Course on 5-9 August 2019. Key topics include: track systems and infrastructure components, track structural analysis, locomotives, rolling stock and train performance, and rail project design and constructions.
Save the Date!
The 21st Railroad Environmental Conference (RREC) will be held on October 22-23, 2019 on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. Stay tuned for additional details.
In the News
Barkan Mentioned in WSJ Article
January 2019: Professor Chris Barkan was recently interviewed by Jo Craven McGinty, author of The Numbers column for The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and referenced in her January 11, 2019 column. Her article was titled “Will New Train Guidelines Improve Speeds? Not So Fast” and she discussed a Federal Railroad Administration rule which goes into effect on January 22 and introduces new safety and high-speed standards. Click here for the link on the WSJ website.
RailTEC at TRB
January 2019: RailTEC faculty, students and alumni will attend the 98th Annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington, D.C. on January 13 – 17, 2019. This group will have a strong presence at the conference with 37 presentations, 3 session chairs, 4 committee chairs and 18 committee members. Professor Christopher Barkan will be appointed an Emeritus Member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Committee AR000 Rail Group. Click here to see our guide to RailTEC presentations at TRB.
RailTEC Alum to Lead Mexican Rail Regulatory Agency
December 2018: Former RailTEC graduate student, Alejandro Álvarez Reyes, will be heading the Mexican Railway Transport Regulatory Agency (ARTF) as of December 1, 2018. Alejandro graduated with his master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May 2017 where he was involved with the Infrastructure Group as a graduate research assistant. Alejandro has been involved in the Mexican rail industry for more than eighteen years and started his career at the Class I railroad, Ferromex. Before coming to the University of Illinois he was involved with consulting companies for four years overseeing railway projects. He holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) where he has been an associate lecturer in railroads since 2011.
RailTEC Graduate Student Wins Second in Poster Contest
November 2018: University of Illinois RailTEC systems group faculty and students recently attended the 2018 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix AZ where Tyler Dick, Wesley Chen, Stan Chang and Adrian Diaz de Rivera all presented their current railway simulation research projects. Adrian Diaz de Rivera won second place in the 2018 INFORMS Railway Applications Section Student Poster Contest for his poster entitled “Line Capacity and Performance of North American Freight Railway Lines Under Advanced PTC”. The team of Mohammad Amin Nabian, Negin Alemazkoor and Hadi Meidani won second place (out of 40 teams) in the 2018 INFORMS Railway Applications Section Problem Solving Competition for using bi-level random forests to predict passenger train delay.
RISEN Scholars Present Hay Seminar
November 2018: RailTEC was mentioned in the Rail Infrastructure Systems Engineering Network (RISEN) November 2018 Newsletter. On September 28, 2018, two RISEN scholars gave a presentation on “Railway Track Superstructure Research at Tampere University of Technology, Finland” for the William W. Hay Railroad Engineering Seminar. The newsletter mentions they will soon be interviewed for the RISEN YouTube channel. Click here to see the newsletter.
Celebrating the 20th RREC
(L-R) Professor Chris Barkan receiving his award from Bob Fronczak, Association of American Railroads
October 2018: The Railroad Environmental Conference (RREC) celebrated its 20th annual conference this year on October 23-24, 2018. This two day conference, held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, had over 500 people registered who had the opportunity to hear 70 different presentations and visit with 58 exhibitors. The conference has seen significant growth since the first event in 1999 that had 150 attendees, 40 presentations and 9 exhibitors. Sponsorships have also increased from five in the first year to 36 this year. Professor and George Krambles Faculty Fellow Christopher Barkan received a plaque recognizing his service to the conference from environmental representatives of the railroad industry. Keynote Speaker for the conference was Michael Rush of the AAR. Save the date for the 21st RREC on October 22-23, 2019.
2018 RailTEC Short Course
RailTEC Short Course participants touring the Research and Innovation Laboratory (RAIL).
August 2018: The Railroad Engineering Short Course, held on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s campus on August 6 – 10, 2018, focused on track systems and infrastructure components; locomotives, rolling sttock and mechanical components; rail project design and construction; and track structural analysis. The 17 participants this year engaged in interactive lectures, relevant case studies and small group discussions to learn about practical aspects and the science behind railway engineering and transportation concepts. All participants received Professional Development Hours (PDH) and a Certificate of Completion. If you missed the class this year, next year's class is scheduled for August 5-9, 2019.
Historic Steam Locomotive Lab
August 2018: The old Locomotive Testing Laboratory, originally a star attraction on campus and a state-of-the-art laboratory when it was built in 1912, was torn down on August 11 and 12, 2018 due to structural concerns. The building was designed to test bearings of steam locomotives under load as measured by a built-in dynamometer. It was said to be one of only three such facilities in the United States. Research was performed here from 1913 until the mid-forties, at which point it was converted into the aeronautical laboratory. RailTEC research is now conducted at the 3,500 sq. ft. Research And Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) in the Harry Schnabel, Jr. building on the CERL campus, while the administrative offices are in Newmark Lab. To see photos of the building during the last walk through, please click The building was recently featured in a News-Gazette column by journalist Tom Kacich. Click here to read his article.
Fourth RailTEC alum named "Rising Star"
July 2018: Dr. Xiang Liu, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering program at Rutgers University and Director of the Rutgers Rail Program, was named by Progressive Railroading magazine as a recipient of their "Rising Stars" award. This award recognizes people under the age of 40 who are making a positive difference in the North American railroad industry. Liu is the fourth RailTEC alumni to receive this award since its inception six years ago. Other RailTEC winners were: Kevin Day (2014), Riley Edwards (2015) and Rapik Saat (2016). Liu was one of 20 individuals chosen out of more than 150 nominations. He received both an M.S. and Ph.D. in civil engineering with a focus on rail engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This year's honorees were chosen based on their contributions to the railroad industry, career achievements, demonstrated leadership, professional association activity or community involvement. All the recipients were honored on Sunday, 22 July 2018 in Chicago.
Railway Engineering Educators Symposium
July 2018: The Railway Engineering Educators Symposium (REES) marked its 10th anniversary last week with a conference on June 26 – 27, 2018 in Columbia, South Carolina. RailTEC Senior Research Engineer, Tyler Dick, was one of the presenters this year as well as at the original symposium on June 9 – 11, 2008 on the University of Illinois campus. REES provides faculty with materials, gives presentations, hosts discussions of the material, and organizes other activities intended to educate the attendees about rail transportation engineering. This symposium was a direct result of the need for a new generation of capable, well-educated railway engineering professionals to plan, design, build, maintain, and operate the rail transportation system. REES was so appreciated that in 2015 a Passenger Railway Engineering Education Symposium (p-REES) version was designed to encourage more transit content in existing engineering courses. P-REES and REES are offered in alternating years.
RailTEC Welcomes K-12 Students
June 2018: On Friday 15 June RailTEC faculty and students welcomed 11 students from the Summer STEAMcation camp by Next Generation School. This innovative summer program provides real-world experiences for students in grades 4-6 in the Champaign-Urbana area. Camp the week of June 11 was titled "Zoom Zoom Invent!" and focused on exploring the latest and greatest in transportation and the scientific investigations of transportation technology. On the day the students spent with RailTEC, they focused on railroad planning, construction and safety, as well as investigating the physics of rail transportation. Click here for more pictures.
Locomotive Testing Laboratory
Formally dedicated in 1913, this lab was one of three research facilities in the U.S. at the time.
Now being decommissioned, most recently the building housed an aeronautical lab complete with a wind tunnel.
June 2018: The old Locomotive Testing Laboratory on campus, originally built in 1912, is slated for demolition this summer due to structural concerns. This once state-of-the-art laboratory was previously a star attraction on campus. The building was recently featured in a News-Gazette column by journalist Tom Kacich. Click here to read the entire article. Current Illinois rail research is conducted at the 3,500 sq. ft. Research And Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) in the Harry Schnabel, Jr. building on the CERL campus, while the administrative offices are in Newmark Lab.
For over a century the University of Illinois has been a leader in railway engineering research and education. Beginning with Talbot's fundamental work on railroad track design, and Schmidt & Tuthill's work on train energy and power requirements, through Hay's textbook on railroad engineering, The U of I has a distinguished record of accomplishment and remains highly respected by today's railroad engineering community.
What we do:Education
Inspire and sustain students and faculty interest in rail engineering and transport. Teach courses and offer a curriculum in rail engineering and transportation. Place Graduates in rewarding positions in rail engineering, transportation planning, and operations. Understand the critical educational issues in rail transportation, and develop practical, effective solutions.
Understand the critical research issues in rail transportation, and develop practical, effective solutions. Conduct practical and theoretical research in critically important current topics in rail engineering and transportation. Communicate the results of this research to the rail transportation community.
Provide knowledge and expertise to university, industry, government, and public on rail transportation and engineering topics.