Railway vehicles have principally been designed by mechanical engineers since railways began in the early 1800s, i.e. before electronics and feedback control were invented. Today however they contain substantial amounts of electronic and computer control, in particular the traction systems, which have been converted entirely. However electronic control can also be applied to the vehicle suspension and guidance functions, which can provide large improvements in performance. More significantly, incorporation of sensors, controllers and actuators into the design process from the start can enable vehicle designers to take advantage of different mechanical configurations which are not possible with a purely mechanical approach-in other words the true spirit of mechatronics. The paper reviews the concepts, the current state-of-the-art and opportunities for mechatronic developments for railways for the future.