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The IRSE is the professional institution for all those engaged in or associated with railway signalling and telecommunications, train control, traffic management and allied professions.

The Institution was formed in 1912, and has its headquarters in London, UK.  It, and its members, are active worldwide, with 50% of its membership outside the UK. 

The Institution aims to advance the science and practice of train control and communications engineering within the industry, and to maintain high standards of knowledge and competence within the profession.  The overriding purpose in doing this is for the public benefit, to help ensure the safe and efficient movement of people and freight by rail. 

Objectives of the Institution

The objectives of the Institution are stated in the Articles of Association as being:

The advancement for the public benefit of the science and practice of signalling* by the promotion of research, the collection and publication of educational material and the holding of conferences, seminars and meetings.

The maintenance of high standards of practice and professional care amongst those working within the industry and the promotion of improved safety standards for the protection of the general public.

* which means in this context all the equipment and systems (electrical, electronic, mechanical or software-based) methods, regulations and principles whereby the movement of railway or other traffic is controlled.  This includes associated telecommunications systems.

We have a Strategy for the development of the Institution and the services it provides for its members and stakeholders.


The Articles of Association and Byelaws state how the Institution is governed and organised. Copies of these documents are available via the links on the right of this page.  The governance of the Institution is the responsibility of its Council, which comprises elected members.  The IRSE is a charity registered with the UK Charity Commission, and members of Council are Trustees of the charity.  Click here for more information about the current membership of the Council.

You can read about the activities and work of the IRSE last year (2016) in our Annual Report - see links to the right of this page.

Code of Conduct

It is a condition of membership that IRSE members abide by the Institution’s Code of Professional Conduct, which sets out our expectations and commitments in relation to matters such as:

  • Safeguarding the public interest in matters of safety;
  • Taking personal responsibility for work performed;
  • Avoiding environmental damage and wastage of natural resources;
  • Maintaining and developing professional competence;
  • Undertaking responsibilities with integrity, fairly and objectively.

Professional recognition

The IRSE is a licensed body of the UK’s Engineering Council.  IRSE members are encouraged to register with the Engineering Council as Chartered Engineers (CEng), Incorporated Engineers (IEng) or Engineering Technicians (Eng Tech).  Click here for more information.

Professional Development

The IRSE undertakes a range of activities to support the professional development of its members, including:

  • Running a programme of regular technical meetings, periodical Conferences and Seminars, and an annual Convention, held at various locations around the world, designed to inform and stimulate debate on topics of current interest within the industry

  • Publishing educational text books and a monthly magazine (IRSE NEWS) containing technical papers and articles.

  • Offering an annual Examination worldwide, by which members can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of a broad range of technical and operational subjects relevant to train control and communications.

  • Operating a Licensing Scheme by which members and non-members can demonstrate their ongoing competence for undertaking specific roles relating to train control and communications.

  • Providing a Mentoring Scheme to support individual members seeking to develop their career or professional capabilities.

The IRSE encourages its members to plan and undertake activities that will maintain and enhance their professional capabilities, and to maintain records of these activities.

Working with employers and railway administrations

The Institution seeks to work collaboratively with:

  • employers of train control and communications engineers;
  • railway operators and infrastructure owners;
  • educational and academic establishments;
  • research organisations;
  • government and regulatory bodies;
  • other Professional Institutions and similar bodies;

for the purposes of:

  • attracting and retaining people in the rail industry so that employers have access to competent, capable engineers and technicians;

  • Supporting professional development so that engineers and technicians maintain and develop their competence, capabilities and skills;

  • Education, so that formal training and teaching courses are available to people working in the industry and others who wish to do so;

  • Research, in order to develop new insights, methodologies and techniques for improving the safety, cost-effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of rail transport;

  • Promoting and ensuring railway safety and security, recognising that continuing vigilance and high standards of both collective and individual competence are required for this purpose.


We value diversity and the different perspectives that people from different backgrounds bring to their work and to the engineering profession.  It is our aim that no member or candidate for membership, award or licence holder/applicant, job applicant or employee, or event participant, is disadvantaged or receives less favourable treatment because of age, disability, gender, pregnancy/maternity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or marriage/civil partnership.

The IRSE is a signatory to the UK Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity Concordat.

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