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Railway Challenge

"Taking part has helped us gain first-hand experience of the whole process of developing a locomotive."

Luke Foy, Team Captain
Transport for London
2014 Winners of the Railway Challenge


The IMechE Railway Challenge brings together teams of university students, as well as apprentices and graduates working in industry across the UK to test their business knowledge, design ability and technical skills in a live test environment. They are required to design and manufacture a miniature (10¼” gauge) railway locomotive in accordance with a set of rules and a technical specification. At the end of each academic year, a competition weekend takes place where the teams compete against each other to test their locomotive designs and determine a winner.

The competition is organised by the Railway Division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. The competition weekend in June 2014 built on the success of the two preceding years. Over 100 people came to Stapleford Miniature Railway near Melton Mowbray to watch reigning champions University of Huddersfield take on teams from the University of Birmingham, Interfleet and newcomers Transport for London. Competition was fierce and, for the second year running, the newcomers – this time Transport for London - eventually proved triumphant. We were delighted to once again have industry press coverage for the event and you can read an article in The Rail Engineer here. There is also a short video about the Railway Challenge on YouTube: 

In the 2014-15 academic year, the challenge is open to teams from any UK university or railway company. The competition dates are confirmed as Friday 26 June to Sunday 28 June 2015 and the venue will once again be Stapleford Miniature Railway near Melton Mowbray.

The Challenge

For the purpose of the Railway Challenge competition, teams will assume that they work for a design consultancy producing a locomotive for a large corporation. They will design and manufacture the prototype of this locomotive and they will then test this against prototypes manufactured by the other teams. The challenges are as follows:

Track Based challenges:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Storage
  • Traction
  • Ride Comfort
  • Noise
  • Maintainability

Presentation challenges:

  • Design
  • Business Case

Full details are given in the Railway Challenge Rules and Technical Specification available for download from the team guidance section of this site.

How to Enter

To enter a team for the 2015 Railway Challenge please email and include the following information: your University or company, Team Supervisor and your Team Leader (names, job titles where applicable, full postal address, email addresses, telephone and mobile numbers). Entries are open from 3rd October 2014 to Friday 12th December 2014. Teams will be notified if they have been accepted within one week of submitting their application. Please note that the competition can only accommodate ten teams and places will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

The cost for taking part in the Railway Challenge is £350 + VAT (for up to 10 team members plus a supervisor). Additional team members will be charged £35 + VAT (up to a maximum of 10 additional members). Payment should be submitted along with the booking form.

Why get involved?

The Railway Challenge will provide teams of young engineers with experience of design and manufacture of a prototype vehicle. A structured environment will be provided with academic and industry mentors and a fairly risk free but representative environment in which to develop key engineering skills.

Competition weekend

The final judging and assessment is carried out at Stapleford Miniature Railway in Leicestershire. The 2015 competition weekend will be from 26 to 28 June, with spectators able to attend on either the Saturday or Sunday free of charge. Sunday is probably the best spectator day as the locos will have passed scrutineering by then and be competing against one another. It is free for spectators to come along to watch on both days. Please email Rachel Pearson, Project Manager for the Railway Challenge, to reserve your place


If you have any queries regarding the Railway Challenge please email the rules committee at

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