Black train inside a station.

UNLV Railroad Program

The railroad program at UNLV was established under the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction in 2010.

About the Program

Railroad is viewed as the technology of the century. There is a significant employment gap in the railroad industry with a large number of experienced railroad employees expected to retire within the next decade. In the Las Vegas area, there are many on-going railroad activities:

  • Rail transit is being planned to run on Maryland Parkway and will connect Downtown Las Vegas to the McCarran Airport.
  • The Las Vegas Railway Express Inc. has been trying to restore the former Amtrak service (Wind Desert) between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
  • A high-speed rail connecting Las Vegas and Los Angeles has been planned by XpressWest, which would connect to the California high-speed rail.

The railroad program at UNLV was established in 2010 under the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction. The program offers several courses to undergraduate and graduate students. The offered courses cover railroad engineering, railroad operations, freight transportation, high-speed rail, and public transportation. Apart from the courses offered in classrooms, the program also organizes seminars, field trips, and workshops where students interact with railroad practitioners.

Contact Information

Program Advisor

Hualiang (Harry) Teng, Ph.D., Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction
Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering
Phone: 702-895-4940
Fax: 702-895-3936

Prospective Students

We welcome all prospective students to gain a variety of railroad engineering skills through our program. The program offers a variety of courses in railroad engineering designed to teach skills ranging from design, operation, and safety which enables our graduates to work in the most reputable railroad companies, consulting firms, and government organizations. Both undergraduate and graduate students, American-based and international students are welcome to apply to our program. More information on the application and admissions process can be found on the Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction site.

Current Students

The program has more than 300 students who have been enrolled in one or more courses in the past several years. Apart from the railroad knowledge offered in the classrooms, current students gain experience in the railroad industry through laboratory work, field trips, and internships in railroad companies.

Field Trips

Past field trips have included trips to the Nevada State Railroad Museum and Barstow Classification Yard to learn about railroad operations. Field trips are an integral part of the railroad engineering knowledge provided by our program.

Career Connections

Our program connects students to the local and national railroad industry. The railroads close to UNLV are BNSF, Union Pacific Railroad, X-Train, XpressWest, and Nevada State Railroad Museum.

AREMA Student Chapter

The American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) student chapter provides extra-curricular opportunities to learn from industry professionals through chapter-organized seminars, short courses, and field trips.


The alumni of our railroad program have been able to acquire various engineering positions at railroad companies and consulting firms.


Courses Offered

The list of the courses and their respective brief descriptions are presented below.

This course covers aspects in railway track, vehicle motion, signals and communications, railway track maintenance, railway operations, freight operations, and passenger train operations.

This course covers design of major elements of railroad track, including track, subgrade materials, design and construction, construction costs and stability problems, drainage, ballast, cross ties, concrete and other artificial ties, rail, fastenings and other track material, track geometry, turnouts and crossings, track-train dynamics, conduct of work, and railroad right of way.

This course covers high speed rail stations, tracks, traction, power, rolling stock, signals and communications, traffic organization, passenger service, and maintenance.

This course covers analysis and evaluation of mass transit systems; their operation and management; demand and cost analysis; route design, schedules, and fare policy; technology of transit systems including vehicles and structures; transit financing; impact on land use and environment.

*Graduate students only.

This course covers freight, commodities, facilities, and operations in the major modes of the transportation system and freight planning.

*Graduate students only.

This course covers the dynamics of train movements, spacing trains, interlock principles, capacity, scheduling, and control of railroad operations.

Short Courses, Seminars, and Workshops

Each year, the program offers a series of short courses, seminars, and workshops.

  • Public Transportation System
  • High Speed Rail


Research Projects on Railroad

  • University Transportation Center on Improving Rail Transportation Infrastructure Sustainability and Durability, 10.5 Million for five years.
  • Technical Feasibility Study of Passenger Rail Service along the West Route between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, self-funded with software donation $60,000 from the Berkeley Simulation Software, LLC. and Las Vegas Railway Express, Inc., 2014
  • Developing Seamless Connections in the Urban Transit Network: A Look Toward High Speed Rail Interconnectivity, the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium, U.S. Department of Transportation, 2012-2013, $79,985

Research Software

Berkeley Simulation Software
  • Donated by Berkeley Simulation Software
  • Used in projects like the feasibility study of passenger train service between Las Vegas and Los Angeles along the west route

International Collaborations

UNLV has established collaborative relationships with China’s Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU), a world leader in railroad education and technology development. Many scholar exchanges happen between these two universities, and BJTU will provides assistance in developing the railroad program at UNLV.

A group of railroad faculty and students standing around a section of railroad track.

International Cooperation

The UNLV railroad program cooperates with several international universities through an exchange program for students and visiting scholars.

Selected Visiting Scholars

Caiwen Ma, Professor

Dalian Jiaotong University

Bingyi Hu, Associate Professor

Beijing Jiaotong University

Yongjun Ni, Associate Professor

Beijing Jiaotong University

Wenliang Zhou, Postdoc

Central South University

Selected Exchange Students

Xingji Lu, MS student

Beijing Jiaotong University

Tarik Toughrai, MS student

ENTPE, France