Certificate and Diploma Courses

The IRSE has been advised by Central Queensland University (CQUni) that, for internal reasons, the University has decided that it will not continue to offer the Railway Signal and Telecommunications Program. This means that CQUni will not accept new enrolments for the Program in 2015 and that only second year courses will be offered in 2015. No further railway signalling courses will be offered after 2015.

The IRSE in association with Rail Innovation Australia (RIA) are currently in negotiations with a number of alternative providers for the Program with the aim to re-start enrolments with another University in 2016.

Students who will have completed all first year courses by the end of Term 3, 2014 and wish to complete the Graduate Diploma through CQUni are advised that they must enrol and complete their second year courses in 2015.

Those interested in commencing study in the Railway Signal and Telecommunications Program should register their interest by sending their details to Vicky Kreiser at RIA via email at . They will be advised as soon as the new arrangements are put in place.


The objective of the Graduate Certificate/Graduate Diploma program in Railway Signalling and Telecommunications programs is to facilitate the development of competent railway S & T enigneers; by providing students with a well-rounded knowledge base, supplemented by relevant work based exercises, to complement employer's graduate development program for new graduates.

The programs also offer an opportunity for those without basic engineering degree qualifications but have extensive work experience in a relevant field to upgrade their academic qualifications.

The Graduate Diploma in Railway Signalling, is recognised by the IRSE as acceptable alternative academic qualification for purpose of application for Corporate Membership. This program comprises six courses to be studied in the distance mode – usually as a sequence of one course per term over two years. Students who wish to exit after completing the first three courses will be awarded the Graduate Certificate in Railway Signalling.


The first intake to this program commenced in 2004.

All course materials for these programs have been developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Railway Engineering and Technologies (Rail CRC) in collaboration with its industry and university partners, with significant contribution by IRSE (Australasia) members. CQ University has been licensed by the Rail CRC to offer programs using the course materials.

Where appropriate, the program content has been aligned with the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers (IRSE) examination syllabus. In all cases, students learn local practices under the guidance of a work-based mentor as part of work-place activities.

The program will be offered only in distance learning mode using a web-based multi-media online learning platform. Students enrolled in the program will develop their professional network and practice their team work skill through assignments and project work in a multi-location team environment (Project-based Learning). Each student is jointly supervised by an academic and an industry-based supervisor (mentor). In addition, a current practitioner of the discipline will be employed as Tutor to guide students through their learning activities.

While people anywhere in the world can undertake this program, the required support arrangement is such that we are only able to accept applicants who can arrange local mentoring support from their employer.

Program goals

The goals of this graduate program in Railway Signalling are to:

· Develop proficient practitioners in Railway Signalling or provide the base knowledge for Railway Telecommunications

· Meet the requirement for common principles but different applications in each State/Country

· Encourage an understanding of current industry trends and issues

· Encourage development of future industry leaders

· Achieve double certification (University and IRSE)

· Conform to current direction of professional engineer development framework

· Provide flexible delivery with respect to distance and location of residence

· Encourage work-based and work-relevant learning

· Provide challenging and value adding development to students' capabilities and skills

· Develop students' adaptive, cooperative, and reflective learning ability.

Student Prerequisites

The program is targeted primarily for recent (within 5 years) graduates of Bachelor of Electrical Engineering programs. Candidates who do not meet the above requirements but have at least 5 years of work experience in the appropriate field and show learning maturity and capability may be accepted initially in the Graduate Certificate program on the recommendation (in writing) of their employer.

For acceptance into one of the programs, students must be employed within the railway industry sector and have employer support, including the allocation of a work-based Mentor for the duration of the study period. Candidates whose employer can meet the course support requirements but have difficulties finding a suitably qualified work-based Mentor should contact the Program Coordinator for the appointment of a state-based Mentor.

Graduate attributes (Output)

All graduates from the program will have demonstrated the following critical competencies (unconsciously competent):

· Ability to apply safety systems to railway operations in a cost effective manner which contributes to business objectives

· Employ procedures from the safety and reliability assurance tool kit

· Employ procedures from the risk mitigation and management tool kit

· Multi-disciplinary system thinking that can synthesise across social, economical, technical, environmental and legislative issues.

In addition, graduates will have demonstrated through their course work that they have developed the following capability (consciously competent):

· Quickly adapt to any system

· Apply principles to different situations

· Manage interfaces with other disciplines and systems

· Manage projects in design, construction and testing

Furthermore, graduates will have accepted the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers Code of Professional Conduct and Engineers Australia Code of Ethics and have demonstrated through the performance of their course work that they have consistently adhered to these Codes.

Mode of Enrolment

All students in this program will enrol in the distance education mode.

Program support

Students will be provided with weekly study guides covering several topics each with recommended reading and workplace activities. The distance learning for this program will be supported by a course web site and the following learning support:

· A compulsory 2-day induction program at the commencement of program.

· University based Course Coordinator and Academic Supervisor

· Tele-tutorial (via internet) if required

· Tutor(s) for each course

· Industry-based Mentor for each course

· Course based online discussions and bulletin board facilities

· Ad hoc scheduled teleconference (on an as needs basis)

Program structure

The Graduate Diploma in Railway Signalling program comprises the following 6 courses:

· CPD1 Signalling and Safe Railway Operation (Term 1)

· CPD2 Signalling Principles (Term 2)

· CPD3 Signalling the Layout (Term 3) or

· CPD7 Railway Telecommunications (Term 3)

· CPD4 Signalling Applications Engineering (Term 1)

· CPD5 Signalling Systems, Management and Engineering (Term 2)

· CPD6 Signalling Research/Investigation Project (Term 3) or

· CPD0 Signalling Professional Competency

The core courses are marked in BOLD.

The three term year has a total term time of between 42-45 weeks per year. Term 1 is between March-June; Term 2 between July-October; and Term 3 from November-February the following year.

The average weekly learning workload for each candidate is envisaged to be 12 hours private learning time, plus 4 hours of work-based learning activities. The actual time required may vary according to student's current skill base and motivation.

During this time, candidates will develop the following professional capability and skills iteratively:

· Develop railway system and multi-disciplinary perspectives in course 1

· In depth principles of signalling system design in courses 2 and 3

· Consideration of equipment design and its influence on system performance in course 4

· Engineering and management practices at system level in course 5.

· Develop capability and willingness to find, create, debate, synthesise, extend and communicate discipline knowledge in all courses, with cap-stone projects in course 6.

CPD7 Railway Telecommunications may be taken as an elective for CPD3 Signalling the Layout (Term 3). This course is intended to help candidates who are employed in the field of railway telecommunications to develop knowledge and skills in the principles and application of railway telecommunications systems.

CPD0 Signalling Professional Competency may be taken as an elective for CPD6 Signalling Research/Investigation Project. This course may be completed at any stage during the Diploma program.

The synopsis of each course is as follows.

CPD1 Signalling and Safe Railway Operation

To provide broad, systematic and multidisciplinary knowledge and skills for railway signal engineers and technologists in the role of signalling in safe railway operation and on signalling principles and equipment. This will provide the foundation on which the remaining courses will build. Attention will be focussed on the current business environment of the rail industry and the demand for quality and safety management practices in the delivery of signalling systems.

Topics covered include:

· The current business and legislative environment of the railway industry, including legal requirements and standards in force in the student's own State

· Railway operations, the roles of the engineering disciplines and interface requirements

· Objectives of signalling systems – safety and traffic management efficiency

· History of rail systems and how signalling evolved

· Signalling principles: safe separation of trains, proving and holding the route, failsafe design

· Signals, train detection, points, control panels, level crossing protection: equipment and principles

· Signalling terminology and graphics symbols

· Signal design documents: track plans, control tables, aspect sequence charts, bonding plans

· Automatic Warning Systems, Automatic Train Protection & Automatic Train Operation, their uses and limitations

· Quality control systems and quality management techniques, safety management techniques and AS4292, introduction to safety assurance techniques

· Risk management and quantified risk assessment

· The importance of communication to ensure safety

· Why maintenance is required

· Rules of operation for the safe working of the railway & general rules relevant to signalling / communications, including working under degraded conditions

· Protection of engineering work sites and track safety

· Human factors in the development of signalling systems, operators, maintainers, other railway staff.

CPD2 Signalling Principles

To provide a fundamental understanding of Signalling from first principles, and to ensure that students can apply this knowledge in a safe, fit for purpose and cost effective manner. The student must be able to show in their work that the topographical and functional logic, that arises when multiple units of equipment of diverse types are combined, has been taken into account.

Topics covered include:

· Principles of multiple-aspect signalling

· Principles of signalling interlocking systems

· Level crossing controls

· Control tables

· The principles of control of single line railways – all types of manual and automatic systems

· Principles of absolute and permissive working for double lines & block controls

· Automatic Train Protection principles

· Train Detection principles

· Train Control Centres – principles and equipment

· Transmission/radio based signalling principles

· Moving block principles

· Measures to guard against human failure

· Factors affecting the safety, availability, reliability and maintainability of equipment and systems.

CPD3 Signalling the Layout

To ensure students can demonstrate that they can signal a layout for a variety of different traffic patterns and equipment systems in a professional and cost effective manner, taking into account the constraints of the layout and safety requirements. Students also need to demonstrate a professional understanding of the integration of the equipment and subsystems used to form the complete signalling system.

Topics covered include:

· The relationship between intensity of traffic, braking characteristics, gradient and the spacing of signals.

· The calculation of time, distance and speed curves

· Headway requirements

· The impact of mixed traffic on line capacity

· Operational factors: maximisation of line capacity, reducing operating costs (cost of braking and accelerating, longer journey times may require more rollingstock but require quantum leaps to take advantage), market advantage with road transport, positioning of crossing points

· Definition of user requirements

· Assessing risk of signalling layouts

· Layouts for level crossing protection

· Principles for investigating incidents involving signalling equipment.

CPD4 Signalling Applications Engineering

This course is primarily concerned with equipment at the individual unit, or subsystem level. The student is required to demonstrate a professional understanding of the factors to be considered when applying signalling and communications equipment at all stages in the lifecycle (including research & development), from specification to replacement.

Topics covered include:

· Signalling / Telecommunications principles and railway signalling, control and communications equipment including:

v Signals Power supplies, cables

v Point operation and detection

v Relays and CBIs

v Hot axle box and other defect detectors

v Data and incident recorders

v Lightning protection

· Telecommunications for signalling

· Environmental factors including, traffic type, tunnel and underground environments

· Train Interference Characteristics, Immunisation and Electromagnetic Compatibility

· Installation techniques

· Testing and Commissioning.

CPD5 Signalling Systems, Management and Engineering

To ensure the student has a Systems Engineering perspective of the Railway Signalling, Control & Communications system and can provide for the integration of many subsystems and diverse equipment in a professional manner.

Topics covered include:

· Introduction to Systems Engineering concepts

· Design and Operational considerations for failure conditions/ restoration of service

· Human factors in the development of a signalling system

· General phases of a signalling or communications project.

· Whole-of-Life Cost issues

· The different types of specification and their appropriateness

· Contracting/Tendering technology risk

· Quality system and documentation, key areas for system quality and safety checks

· Introduction to safety assurance

· Configuration control

· Hazard, risk & qualified risk assessment, identification and analysis techniques

· FMECA, fault tree analysis

· Relevant Standards

· The advantages and limitations of new technology

· Maintenance.

RAIL29009 – CPD6 Signalling Research/Investigation Project

To continue with students' development of a Systems Engineering perspective of the Railway Signalling, Control & Communications system and to enhance their capability to contribute to the body of professional know-how in Railway Signalling.

On successful completion of this course, students are expected to have produced investigative/research works that are suitable for presentation to IRSE and other professional body technical meetings.

CPD7 Railway Telecommunications

To provide broad, systematic knowledge and skills for the application of telecommunications systems in a railway environment. Students will develop a professional understanding of the factors to be considered in applying telecommunications systems and equipment in a railway environment in a safe, fit for purpose and cost effective manner.

Topics covered include:

· The role of telecommunications in the safe operation of railways

· The hazards and associated risks of various types of telecommunications equipment under normal and fault conditions

· Network architecture including bandwidth, bearer selection, backbone vs local

· Transmission systems and equipment: copper, fibre and radio

· Train control requirements and systems

· Human factors in the development of telecommunications systems including user interfaces particularly in times of stress

· Mobile radio systems for train control, maintenance services and shunting, on board equipment

· Telemetry systems for signalling, power supervisory and network control

· Diversity in bearers and equipment

· Fundamentals of good design for safe outcomes

· Management of electromagnetic radiation including immunisation from traction interference

· Power supplies, and earthing

· Cable construction, selection and installation

· Station operations including CCTV, PIDS, emergency phones and PA systems

· Business communications data and voice, linking regional areas to main offices

· Logging equipment, voice recorders and master clocks

· Telecommunications for underground railways.

CPD0 Signalling Professional Competency

This course is being offered from 2010 as an elective for CPD6 Signalling Research/Investigation Project. As a Directed Learning Elective, the specific content of the learning for this course will be developed jointly between the employer (represented by the mentor) and CQU (course coordinator) – and to be accepted by the student – and in the form of a learning contract. This learning contract shall specify the professional competencies that the student will need to demonstrate before the end of the course in order to be awarded a pass or better grade; as well as the work assignments and assessment process that could provide evidence of their achievement.

The core competencies that need to be achieved have been specified however there is flexibility for the student to select up to 25% as options. There are four streams of competency:

· Design

· Installation

· Test and commissioning

· Maintenance.

Click on the link for the particular competence stream for details of the competencies to be achieved.

Assessment will be by a combination of workplace assessment and professional practice portfolio.

To provide for additional flexibility the course may be commenced at any stage of the Railway Signalling and Telecommunications program.

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