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  1. Licensing
  2. Membership & Registration
  3. Qualifications & CPD
  4. Publications & Resources
  5. Get Involved
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  7. About

Certificate in Railway Control Engineering Fundamentals (Module A) reading list

 

Feedback from the IRSE Younger Members' Section Exam Review on 20 March 2024:

  • For Certificate candidates
    • Revise the areas you don't know about
    • Don't think about the question too deeply
    • If you are stuck, move onto the next question(s), and if you have time come back to that question(s)
  • For Modules B, C and D
    • Read the question
    • Answer the question, not just what you know about the subject
    • State your assumptions at the beginning of each of your answers
    • Practice handwriting answers, if that is how you are going to answer
    • Some answers have been too brief - note the number of marks for each part of the question, and note the use of words in the question such as 'describe', 'explain' and 'discuss'

The video of the session will be available on the IRSE study Vimeo channel soon - https://vimeo.com/showcase/study

 

 

Reading list for the Certificate in Railway Control Engineering fundamentals (module A)

Students are encouraged to read and gain experience wider than the essential reading list as a broad knowledge of railway control and communications systems engineering is needed to pass this module.

Questions in the exam paper will cover all 10 learning objectives within the syllabus for the Certificate in Railway Control Engineering Fundamentals (module A), in brief:

  • Operations: how a railway is operated to provide a safe and reliable service
  • Technical principles: railway control and communications philosophy and high level principles
  • Safety principles: safety engineering principles as applicable to a railway
  • Technical functions: the basic concepts of railway signalling and control systems
  • Applications: the functionality and limitations of various types of signalling, telecommunications and control equipment
  • Lifecycle: the basic concepts of system lifecycle
  • Maintenance: how maintenance, inspection and testing keep the railway safe and reliable
  • Integrity: the basic concepts of fail-safe hardware and high-integrity software
  • Technical interfaces: the interfaces and interactions between railway control and communications and related systems within the railway and stakeholders
  • External interfaces: the role of railway control and communications in functions other than the control of train movement

 

Changes to the syllabus and reading list for the Certificate (module A) exam - effective from the October 2023

The following changes have been agreed by Education & Professional Development Committee and these pages have been updated accordingly:

  • governance has been removed from the syllabus
  • "back to basics" articles from recent issues of IRSE News have been added to the reading list
  • articles covering governance, human factors and secondary systems have been removed from the reading list - there is some content relating to these subjects elsewhere
  • there are new versions of articles in the reading list covering dependability, metros, system management and interfaces and interactions (minor changes)
  • some of the historical and UK-specific content of the "back to basics" article on train protection has been withdrawn from the essential reading list and questions will not be set on the withdrawn content

 

Essential reading list

All items on the essential reading list below are available free of charge and most of these are short articles.  Studying and understanding all of the items in the essential list will enable a candidate to pass the Certificate.

Candidates are also recommended to check the IRSE Younger Members' study videos as they have commissioned a series of talks by the "back to basics" article authors.

1. Certificate (module A) syllabus - updated April 2023

The Certificate (module A) syllabus gives the scope of the exam, arranged under 10 learning objectives.

2. Certificate (module A) study guide

The Certificate (Module A) Study Guide v3 March 2022 gives advice to candidates on preparing for the certificate

Also watch Hedley Calderbank's presentation within the February 2023 exam review for more tips

3. Certificate (module A) sample questions

The Certificate (Module A) Example Questions contains questions with answers that demonstrate the style, format and typical content of the various question types used in the Certificate (Module A) 

Updated February 2022!

4. Glossary of train control terminology

The Glossary of Train Control Terminology gives common terms, acronyms and alternative terminology for railway control functions, systems and equipment

5. Introduction to railway signalling

The Introduction to Railway Signalling document is a very basic introduction to the subject of railway signalling. Certificate candidates with little prior knowledge should start here

6. Fundamental requirements for a train control system (back to basics)

The Fundamental requirements for a train control system (back to basics) article is a short article on the essential requirements for any train control system

7. Train detection (back to basics)

The Train detection (back to basics) article is an overview of the many ways in which train positions can be determined

8. Interlockings (back to basics)

Interlockings (back to basics) are two articles covering the technologies and functionality of the fundamental core of a signalling system

9. Document withdrawn - April 2023

Document withdrawn - April 2023

10. Document withdrawn - April 2023

Document withdrawn - April 2023

11. Dependability of railway control and communication systems - updated April 2023

Dependability of railway control & communication systems explores the fundamentals of reliability, availability, maintainability, safety and security in railway control engineering

12. Principles of railway safety engineering (back to basics)

The Principles of railway safety engineering (back to basics) article explains the identification and analysis of hazards and risks

13. Train protection (back to basics) - updated April 2023

The Train protection (back to basics) article details the story of train protection from train stops to ATP systems, ETCS, CBTC and PTC - updated April 2023

14. Operator interfaces (back to basics)

The Operator interfaces (back to basics) article covers the interface between the human operator and the signalling system from lever frames to computer workstations

Also watch Ian Mitchell's presentation to the IRSE Younger Members

15. Telecoms (back to basics)

Telecoms (back to basics) are two articles covering the whole breadth of telecoms networks and customer-facing communications respectively

16. Safe train separation

Safe train separation is a basic overview of the methods of maintaining a safe distance between trains and conveying movement authorities to trains

17. Safety engineering for railway control and communication systems

Safety engineering for railway control & communication systems details principles of integrity and safety management as applied to railway control systems

18. Metro railways - automation and summary of differences from typical main line railways - updated April 2023

Metro railways - automation and summary of differences from typical main line railways provides a summary of ways in which issues affecting railway control engineering typically differ between metros and main line railways. Also an outline of the various degrees of metro automation

19. Document withdrawn - update April 2023

Document withdrawn from essential reading list. April 2023

20. Level crossings (back to basics)

The Level crossings (back to basics) article details fundamental principles and typical applications of level crossings

Also watch Ed Rollings' presentation to the IRSE Younger Members

21. Railway control and communications systems management - updated April 2023

Railway control & communications systems management gives a summary of some aspects of systems management, life cycle and interfaces

22. Interfaces and interactions between railway control & communications and related systems - updated April 2023

Interfaces and interactions between railway control & communications and related systems details an outline of the interfaces with operations and other engineering systems

23. Study guide for module 2 - signalling the layout

Study guide for module 2 - signalling the layout covers the elements of signalling layouts, including the relationships between the provision of signals and traffic operating patterns, rolling stock and layout constraints and headway requirements.  The guide covers sufficient information for Certificate candidates (some links with more detailed information are only available to logged in IRSE members)

24. Points (back to basics) - new April 2023

Points (back to basics) articles cover principles and common practices of points operating mechanisms

25. Maintenance and remote condition monitoring (back to basics) - new April 2023

Maintenance and RCM (back to basics) article covers the role of maintenance and remote condition monitoring

26. Safety Integrity Levels (back to basics) - new April 2023
27. Metro train control systems (back to basics) - new April 2023

Metro train control systems (back to basics) article gives an introduction to metro train control systems

28. Signals (Back to Basics) - New summer 2024

Signals (back to basics) looks at lineside railway signals in greater detail

Background reading

The following are recommended for Certificate in Railway Control Engineering Fundamentals (module A) candidates who want a wider perspective, or alternative approaches to subjects covered in the essential reading list.

These books can be purchased at the IRSE store (discounts available for IRSE members - log in to see these)

  1. Introduction to Railway Signalling: describes modern signalling equipment, systems and practice. Does not cover transmission-based signalling in any great detail. Especially recommended for candidates with little previous knowledge of the subject (£60 non-members / £25 members plus postage and packing)
  2. Railway Telecommunications Textbook: a comprehensive guide including details of the background, infrastructure, equipment and constraining elements of railway telecommunications (£60 non-members / £35 members plus postage and packing)

 

 


 

Looking for help for your exam studies?  Watch the study videos collated by IRSE Younger Members' Section on our Vimeo study channel at https://vimeo.com/showcase/study