Stainless steel railway vehicles with so many advantages, such as lightweight, antirust, low cost of maintenance and simple manufacturing process, so the production of high level stainless steel railway vehicles has become the development strategy of European, American and other developed nations. The current stainless steel railway vehicles body and structure are usually assembled by resistance spot welding process. The weak points of this process are the poor surface quality and bad airtight due to the pressure of electrodes. In this study, the partial penetration lap laser welding process was investigated to resolve the problems, by controlling the laser to stop at the second plate in the appropriate penetration. The lap laser welding joint of stainless steel railway vehicle car body with partial penetration has higher strength and surface quality than those of resistance spot welding joint. The biggest problem of lap laser welding technology is to find the balance of the strength and surface quality with different penetrations. The mechanism of overlap laser welding of stainless steel, mechanical tests, microstructure analysis, the optimization of welding parameters, analysis of fatigue performance, the design of laser welding stainless steel railway vehicles structure and the development of non-destructive testing technology were systematically studied before lap laser welding process to be applied in manufacture of railway vehicles. The results of the experiments and study show that high-quality surface state and higher fatigue strength can be achieved by the partial penetration overlap laser welding of the side panel structure, and the structure strength of the car body can be higher than the requirements of En12663, the standard of structural requirements of railway vehicles bodies. Our company has produced the stainless steel subway and high way railway vehicles by using overlap laser welding technology. The application of lap laser welding will be a big change of railway vehicles manufacturing technology.