• formalizing systems engineering practice;
  • rail;
  • systems engineering principles;
  • transferring systems engineering practice


There is increasing interest within the rail sector in applying the concepts of systems engineering. This paper presents arguments that the balance of concerns differs between a typical project in the rail sector and one in the domains in which systems engineering was developed and that this difference, together with a lack of agreement on the scope of systems engineering and differences in tradition between systems engineering and the established rail disciplines, raise barriers to the effective and efficient importation of systems engineering ideas into the rail sector. It is suggested that the system engineering community can lower these barriers by strengthening published systems engineering guidance in certain areas, being prepared to express themselves in plain language and packaging their practices in a more portable fashion, while the rail community can help by being prepared to adapt the systems engineering approach to meet their needs better and introducing new practices in a measured and systematic fashion. The benefits to both communities are identified and found to justify the investment required to take these steps. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Syst Eng