Take your rail career further

Our courses provides specialised professional development opportunities to help you build your career in rail.

We have worked closely with industry experts and managers to offer courses that will make a real difference to your work in the industry and support your career development goals.

Understanding Rail

Our online courses sell out very quickly, so don’t delay, secure your place today for our next course which commences on the 31 August 2023.

Understanding Rail is a comprehensive industry-owned online course with exclusive opportunities for professional development.

There will be two intakes for our Understanding Rail course in 2024, commencing in March and September. Download the course flyer and FAQs for information.

If you are new to the rail industry or keen to expand your understanding of the sector, this course is perfect for you.

Our highly popular Understanding Rail course is now online, bringing this comprehensive introduction to the rail industry straight to your home or office.

Over five weeks, industry leaders and experts will give you a rare opportunity to boost your knowledge. When you complete the Understanding Rail course you will:

  • Gain an overview of the rail industry and its terminology
  • Learn about the rail industry’s contribution to our economy and community, and how current policies, projects and innovation will drive its future
  • Discover the different types of rail infrastructure and rollingstock, and how to ensure their safe and efficient management across the asset lifecycle
  • Learn about the complexities of safely operating a rail network, and the systems that keep it moving
  • Gain an understanding of the range of businesses that make up the rail supply chain, and how they work together
  • Find out how to apply this knowledge to your own workplace

What’s involved?

Understanding Rail is delivered over five weeks and includes:

  • Five 1.5 hour live and interactive webinars
  • About two hours of interactive educational activities each week via our online platform
  • Face-to-face site tours in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, subject to COVID-19 restrictions.

Registration fees

This comprehensive course is available for just $1265 including GST For ARA members and $1760 including GST for non members.

Meet our past speakers

  • Andrew Pearce, Canberra Metro Operations Director of Engineering
  • Sue McCarrey, Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator Chief Executive Officer
  • Julian Sharp, CPB Contractors Project Director and ARA Board Member
  • John McArthur, One Rail Australia Chief Commercial Officer, ARA Board Member
  • Loic Ayoul, Future Maintenance Technologies Co-Founder
  • Tahni Littlejohn, ACT Government Office of Minister Chris Steel and Y-LAB Member
  • Jane Copperthwaite, Anutha Director
  • Stephen Scott, Sydney Metro Director Northwest Operations
  • Steve Brogan, Infrastructure Australia’s Chief of Policy and Research
  • Adrian Rowland, Metro Trains GM Safety Operations

Course learning modules


  • Discuss course expectations and meet your peers
  • Develop an understanding of key rail terminology and how to apply them in your work environment

Module 1: Rail industry overview

  • Develop an understanding of and appreciation for the rail industry. This includes the benefits of rail to society and the economy, a brief history, the role of governments, key projects and future trends
  • Learn about the role of the Office of the National Safety Regulator (ONRSR)
  • Familiarise yourself with the TrackSAFE Foundation

Module 2: Rail track infrastructure and rollingstock

  • Gain a clear understanding of the key components of rail infrastructure
  • Learn about rollingstock including different rollingstock categories, their management and lifecycle
  • Develop an understanding of safety precautions for infrastructure and rollingstock

Module 3: Rail operations and safety

  • Learn about the complexity of operating a rail network
  • Understand how safety and security work in the rail environment
  • Gain fundamental knowledge about signalling systems

Module 4: Passenger and freight rail

  • Learn about the various types of passenger rail and its role in the public transport system
  • Discover the different types of freight rail and Australian freight operators
  • Find out more about Australian and New Zealand passenger operators
  • Obtain current information about faster rail development in Australia
  • Gain a detailed understanding of passenger rail through a Metro Trains Melbourne case study
  • Understand the importance of freight rail to the economy
  • Develop a detailed understanding of freight rail through a One Rail Australia case study

Module 5: Contractors and supply chain

  • Learn about contractual arrangements in rail infrastructure and how to apply them to your work environment
  • Discover the role of Infrastructure Australia and their priority project lists and audits
  • Gain insights into Australia’s rail supply chain and its current challenges and opportunities

Thank you to our course contributors

What have past participants told us?

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this course having known absolutely nothing about this industry. The webinars were all very interesting and the speakers were all very impressive and have a lot of knowledge. I look forward to increasing the knowledge I have gained throughout the next chapter of my career in the very exciting rail industry.”

“Immense learning experience! Has given me a very broad understanding of rail in Australia and New Zealand.”

“I have been pleasantly surprised at the effort put into developing an engaging yet sufficiently detailed course. The topics on rolling stock and rail track infrastructure were particularly helpful for me – very well structured and interesting. The knowledge honed during the program will help me immensely as I’m quite new to the rail industry.”

“I have worked in the rail industry for the last seven years; however, this course has given me a much deeper and holistic understanding of the rail industry. I found the course engaging and easy to follow and appreciated the flexible delivery.”

Key contacts