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railML is a data exchange format for interoperability in railway industry applications.


railML (railway mark-up language) is a common exchange format, which employs the systematic of XML for the description of rail-specific data. railML enables the exchange of railway data between internal and external railway applications. railML is developed within the so-called “railML consortium” from railML.org. It is an open source exchange format; the modelling language of railML is English. A free registration on railML is mandatory for the usage and download of railML schemes.


railML was founded in early 2002 from the Fraunhofer-IVI (Dresden, Germany) and the ETH Zürich (Switzerland) against the background of the chronic difficulty of connecting different railway IT applications. The exchange of data for operation concepts, slot management, simulation or infrastructure planning, etc. was possible only with a lot of special developed interfaces with loss of time and cost problems for railway companies.[1] railML tries to place at disposal an easy and handy, self-describing format close to existing standards.[1] railML is changed and adapted to the needs of railway infrastructure companies (IM's) and railway undertakings (RU's) within discussions. Up to now the versions 1.0; 1.1; 2.0; 2.1 and 2.2 were released for download and productive use. railML's version 3 (new topology model and other evolutions) is currently under development.[2]

railML schemes[edit]

railML is based on XML and sub-areas use other existing XML-schemes such as MathML and LandXML. It is composed of sub-schemes. At the moment three sub-schemes are in productive use:

  • infrastructure for the (priority topological) description of tracks and signalling equipment
  • rolling stock for the description of vehicles
  • timetable for the description of timetables

Additional sub-schemes are station facilities (on hold, currently no requirements from users), crew rostering (data is being gathered and railML.org working group being established) and interlocking (in development by active railML.org working group).

railML.org Consortium[edit]

The development of railML is driven by the railML.org – Initiative, a development partnership of independent companies and organizations and European railways (e.g.: SBB, DB, RFF, Infrabel, BLS, ÖBB, etc.). The participation on the development and semi-annual conferences to exchange experience and discuss basics is open. The continuous development work is mainly internet-based (German and English forums). The organisation of the discussions is managed by so-called railML Coordinators. The (free) membership of the railML.org Consortium is mandatory for the download and usage of railML schemes.

UIC ERIM project[edit]

The ERIM (abbreviation for European Rail Infrastructure Modelling) project of the International Union of Railways (UIC) supports the development of a common standard for data exchange in the railway sector.[3] In 2013 the UIC ERIM feasibility study[4] was performed, in order to analyze and propose a project plan to build a universal infrastructure data exchange format, and a common “language” to improve the railway data exchange. Based on this study a topology model, the ‘UIC RailTopoModel’, which will be the base for railML 3 was developed. This ‘UIC RailTopoModel’ shall become a UIC regulation called 'International Railway Standard (IRS)' in 2015.


  1. ^ a b Presentation by Erika Nissi UIC during the 1st ERIM conference (Paris, September 17, 2013)
  2. ^ railML's announcement page for new railML 3 scheme (November 30, 2014)
  3. ^ The foundation for a Universal Infrastructure Data Exchange Format UIC e-news 362 (November 30, 2014)
  4. ^ Feasibility Study UIC RailTopoModel and data exchange format by trafIT solutions Zurich (Switzerland).

External links[edit]