Explore the world of rail engineering

The Industry

At a glance

Globally, railways are an essential part of a massive infrastructure that supports transport of passenger and freight, including food, medical supplies and more. Within this global system, railway infrastructure keeps trains moving so that people and products can reach their destinations in the timeliest, most cost-effective and safest way possible. Substituting rail transport for other modes, notably road and air travel, generates a significant reduction in carbon emissions, particularly as more and more trains become fully electric.

The railway infrastructure comprises networks of tracks, power supply system (eg overhead power lines), earthworks, tunnels, level crossings, stations, depots, bridges, viaducts, signalling and communication systems and more. These networks are managed and maintained by infrastructure managers (companies such as Network Rail), while train and freight operating companies such as Thameslink or Great Western run the trains. In the UK and many other countries, heritage railways also operate, and while these exist purely for the leisure industry, they still need robust engineering, safety, and work management processes. Safety and reliability are at the forefront of the rail industry, both in terms of day-to-day maintenance and long-term planning to improve the infrastructure.

“The rail industry is key to the current global initiative to reduce carbon emissions and create a more sustainable infrastructure.”

Stephen Barber, PWI CEO

What's happening?

Industry trends

The UK government is committed to backing major projects that aim to further enhance rail infrastructure. Recent major projects include Crossrail’s Elizabeth line that will open through central London, and High Speed Two (HS2) that will link London with other major UK conurbations including Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds, and Manchester. Projects like these create an abundance of opportunities for workers, and HS2 has been advertising a massive recruitment drive.

In a push for decarbonisation, electrification and the move away from diesel powered trains is an industry priority today, along with a focus on increasing capacity for running more trains. Railway infrastructure engineering and technology are constantly evolving and innovating, increasing the demand for great engineering minds.

PWI Corporate Members

The PWI work with fifty+ Corporate Member organisations who together make up the key business components of the UK rail industry. This includes network operators; major infrastructure consultancies and contractors such as AECOM, Amey, Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Swietelsky Babcock Rail, and Volker Rail; and many more medium and smaller sized companies in the industry supply chain. We also work with heritage rail companies across the UK that form part of the broader industry.

You can find out more about all these great organisations and their individual roles at our Corporate Members page.

Interested in working in rail engineering?

Check out our information page about the work life and careers of rail infrastructure engineers.

What part do we play?

The PWI's role in the rail industry

As a Professional Engineering Institution, the PWI plays an important role in shaping the rail industry of today, and that of the future.

Corporate Members

We work very closely with our Corporate Member organisations to support their major projects.

Education and Training

We provide training and education opportunities to enhance industry skills and competence.

Engineering Careers

We support the professional development of our individual Members to increase career growth within the industry.


We provide a central community for the rail industry's workforce by connecting our Members and facilitating meetings and events.
"The PWI exists to serve the rail infrastructure industry and we achieve this through our network of experts, trainers and key organisations.”
Brian Counter, Technical Director

Looking for opportunities?

Our careers pages are a great place to start if you are searching for job opportunities or ways to enhance your career through additional learning and training.