State of development


The exchange of railway infrastructure data for projects like RINF, ETCS or planning purposes used to cost railways a lot of time and money and was stressed by redundancies and misinterpretation. The absence of a common model and standard in the railway sector has been a widely known problem between experts for quite some time.

We need to create a larger sector approach as the data exchange is one of the rare levers where important savings are still feasible without major investments.” stressed Mr. Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, in his opening statementon the ERIM Conference on September 17, 2013 at UIC in Paris.

Regarding these requirements an feasibility study was done by UIC’s ERIM-workgroup. The results of the study were presented at the conference in Paris, where UIC brought together over 60 representatives from 17 countries to discuss the joint UIC-ERIM/railML initiative.

The central result of this ERIM feasibility study was a standardized data exchange format, based on two components:

  • Topological data model (RailTopoModel)
  • Data exchange format (railML® 3)

This proposal was approved from the audience on September 17, 2013 which consisted of representatives from railways, CER, EIM, ERA, EU-JRC, signaling and IT-industry, geographical institutes, universities and railway service providers. A  working group (RailTopoModelExpertModellIngGroup) has been working together from 2013-2017 to fulfill these promises.

First results

Ensuing from the presented feasibility study, the RTM Expert ModellIng Group developed a RailTopoModel from 2013-2017. This RailTopoModel, as the base for a common exchange format, is a systemic model describing the railway infrastructure per its nature. This Data Model aims at supporting all identified business needs for the railway sector, including the following concepts:

  • Topology: The logical representation of the railway network as a graph model
  • Objects & events location: Spot (e.g. signal), Linear (e.g. limited speeds, platforms …), Area (e.g. locally controlled areas, tariff zones …)
  • Paths: The possible movements on the track and nodes
  • Referencing systems: Geographic and screen (schematic) coordinates, Linear referencing, mileage posts and “rail addresses”
  • Multilevel aggregation: Tracks, Lines, Corridors, …
    (UIC RailTopoModel is designed to have the same structure at each level) 
  • Track Geometry

This developed RailTopoModel 1.2 was the base for railML 3.1, a new version of the data exchange format. This new version will be an enriched version which is able to fulfill amongst other things the needs for RINF and Network Statement. Moreover, firstly IT tools (Viewer, Validator, Translator, ...) have been developed to support the standardized data exchange format.

Version Timeline

In the following chart all release dates of past, current and some future railTopoModel® versions are listed:

Version Release date Supported until License Comment
0.x 2013-2016 December 2016 no (internal usage only) Beta version timetable
1.0 April 18th, 2016 November 6th, 2017 restricted CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 Under patronage of UIC; also IRS 30100
1.1 November 6th, 2017 August 29th, 2018 restricted CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 Under patronage of UIC; bugfixes only
1.2 August 29th, 2018 ≥ 2025 restricted CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 Used in railML® 3.1
1.3 Version not used to avoid confusion with forks of the same name from other projects.
1.4 April 29th, 2022 ≥ 2028 restricted CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 Used in railML® 3.2
1.5 End of 2022
  restricted CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0  
1.6 ≥ 2023   restricted CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0  
2.0 not yet decided   restricted CC-BY-NC-ND X.x