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Reinvigorate the railways

The UK's railway network is owned and managed by Network Rail, which employs engineers of all disciplines to plan, design and make improvements to the network. It also carries out all the maintenance work needed to keep the tracks and equipment working safely, and efficiently. With more than 34,000km of track to keep in good condition, quality engineers are always in demand.

There are also many consultants specialising in rail design both in the UK and overseas. They need top-class design engineers for projects from bridges to earthwork embankments and complex track junction layouts to drainage systems. Work could involve anything from structural analysis of a 150-year old bridge to design work for the multi-billion pound upgrade to the West Coast Main Line.

Contractors also specialise in working on the railways, renewing old track and replacing and strengthening historic structures. They employ engineers to plan and supervise this work.

Railway schemes are among the biggest, most high-profile engineering projects in the UK, including the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Crossrail, and the multi-billion upgrade of the London Underground.

As a rail engineer you could be involved at any stage of a project. If you like to be office-based there is plenty of scope for being part of a design team, using state of the art technology.

But if you want the excitement of working on site you could join the engineers who manage the teams building rail infrastructure.

Many site activities can only be carried out at weekends or at night, when the railway is closed. Engineers also do infrastructure inspections, which can involve walking miles in any weather to ensure the infrastructure is fit for purpose. The unsociable hours and the need to carry out the work whatever the weather, means railway engineers need to be extremely dedicated and committed.

However, the rewards can be good. Rail engineers are in short supply so they can attract good salaries.

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