How two Thai universities, Kasetsart and Mahidol, are tackling rail skills gap via rail education and research

Under the umbrella of the ASEAN International Railway Academy the academic arm of KURail is preparing for the conclusion of the first year of a very intense MEng majoring in Railway Studies. The 24 students from all sectors of the rail industry have found the class to be extremely interesting and sometimes demanding.

The study work has been designed to be taught during the weekend to allow the students to carry on their duties in various sectors. This includes engineers from Laos State Railway, Thai State Railway, Office of Transport Policy, AMR Industries and many more.

During the Summer break KURail will develop an additional discipline within the MEng programme to cover Railway System Maintenance and Refurbishment calling up expertise from KURail in-house and partner Universities such as Newcastle plus establishing links with the Railway Education Centre at the Barrowhill Rail Heritage Centre in Chesterfield UK.

MU’s Master of Engineering Programme in Railway Transportation System is also finalising its first year. The teaching of compulsory courses was delivered in blocks and students had a chance to participate in lectures and labs delivered by both MU staff and six international experts representing various partner institutions.

In February Professor Joern Pachl from Technical University of Braunschweig (Germany) delivered a module on Railway Signalling and Operations. Next, in April and May a five-person delegation from Tokyo Tech, RTRI and NTSEL (Japan) delivered two modules on Railway System Components and Standards and Principles of Service and Maintenance Design for Rail System.

The two modules were part of the THAIST Rail Certificate programme, delivered by NSTDA and Tokyo Tech in collaboration with MU, and were open to a wider audience.

A recruitment drive for both rail Master programs for a new academic year 2018/2019 starts now with new classes beginning in August 2018.

Rail research

KURail has had strong links with AMR Asia for many years and they have taken student projects at KU Engineering faculty to guide them through the industrialisation process.

One excellent example of such a project is an innovative platform screen door system which now in full scale production. This Industry/Academia cooperation is an essential part of the education process of University students.

A consortium of four partners, including two Thai (Mahidol University and BTS) and two British (Newcastle University and TW Metro) organisations, has just started a new industry-academia partnership project co-funded by Newton Fund. The aim of this two-year project called MetroExchange is to focus on metro operations and performance benchmarking.

A number of student internships, research projects, short courses and industry meetings will be delivered in Thailand and in the UK. In addition, free STEM resources will be designed and shared with the public to promote rail research and careers in the rail industry.

Also, an international duet of researchers led by MU, and supported by UIC – International Union of Railways, is currently investigating barriers to digital learning in rail. An online survey which closed in the middle of May was open to rail educators and trainers from around the world. Over thirty professionals and academics responded to the survey and majority of them expressed an interest in follow-up interviews.

The collected data is now being analysed and two scientific papers discussing outcomes of the project will be presented in July at SITCE 2018 conference in Singapore.

MoUs with industry

With industry-academia cooperation in mind MoUs with local industry partners have been recently signed.

KURail signed a MoU to forge positive links with industry partner AMR Asia and MU signed a MoU with Bombardier Transportation (Thailand). During May 2018 KURail will redefine and resign its current MoU with Bombardier Transportation (Thailand) and in doing so will re-establish the joint goals for collaboration in the fields of railway systems for signalling and rolling stock.


Prof John Roberts is an Adjunct Professor at KURail, Kasetsart University Thailand, Chairman of KURail and UIC Railway Talents Ambassador

Email: [email protected]



Dr Anna Fraszczyk is a Visiting Professor at Mahidol University Thailand, UIC Railway Talents Ambassador and RailUniNet secretary

Email: [email protected]