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Textbook: Railway Operation and Control

Pachl, J.: Railway Operation and Control. 3rd edition, VTD Rail Publishing, Mountlake Terrace (USA) 2014, 284 p., 198 ill., USD 39.95

ISBN 978-0-9719915-8-3

"A valuable resource for anyone who plans or manages railroad operation" Softrail Railroad Software and & AEI Products

"... an accessible and culturally comprehensive overview of quite a complex subject." Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog

cover of 2nd edition

This book provides, in a compact form, the very basic knowledge in the science of railway operation in a close connection with signalling principles and traffic control technologies. It was written both as a tutorial for students of railway-related programs and as a reference for people in the industry. Although written from an European point of view, this book tries an independent look at railway operation without concentrating on the operating philosophy of a single railway. But where it makes sense, it is always mentioned if an operating procedure or signalling principle could only be found in a specific country or groups of countries.

This way, the book differs significantly from the German textbook "Systemtechnik des Schienenverkehrs" by the same author, that mainly describes operating and signalling principles of German railways.

For the 3rd edition, the content was thoroughly revised considering current developments in railway signalling and control technologies. In particular, the section on the European Train Control System (ETCS) was updated by the latest developments. There is now also a new section on the North American Positive Train Control (PTC) comparing it with the European approach.

Complete list of contents [PDF], Preface [PDF]

History of changes

Order online from Rail Publishing, or from Simmons-Boardman.

In Germany, this book is also available from the shelf at:

Buchhandlung Graff
Sack 15, 38100 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 480 890
Fax: +49 531 480 8989, email

Note: I'ts not in the online catalogue but only on the shelf in the construction department on the 3rd floor. To buy it you have to call or getting somebody buying it from the shelf.

Advice: When buying from other sources than www.vtd.net, make sure you get the 3rd edition!

This book is a recommended tutorial for railway programs at these academic and professional training institutions:

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
  • Michigan Tech University at Houghton, USA
  • Central Queensland University, Australia
  • Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
  • University of Pardubice, Czech Republic
  • University of West Bohemia in Pilsen, Czech Republic
  • Iran University of Science and Technology at Tehran, Iran
  • National Cheng Kung University at Taipeh, Taiwan
  • M.S. Ramaiah School of Advanced Studies in Bangalore, Karnataka, India
  • Siemens Rail Automation Academy at Braunschweig, Germany
  • SIYAYA Learning, Training and Development, Johannesburg, South Africa


  1. Basic Terms of Railway Operation
  2. Dynamics of Train Movements
  3. Spacing Trains
  4. Interlocking Principles
  5. Capacity Research
  6. Scheduling
  7. Control of Railway Operation

Homepage of Jörn Pachl