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The earliest recorded railways appeared in Greece during Antiquity and then in medieval Europe, operated by human or animal power. The Industrial Revolution changed the nature of railways with the invention of the steam engine, which paved the way for the development of the first electrified trains in the 1880s. Railways have since gone on to function as a major economic force around the world and an essential part of our national and international infrastructure.

Railway engineering is an engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction and operation of railway systems. Its roots are in the early nineteenth century when the need for specialised engineers capable of dealing with the unique problems of the new railway systems emerged.