The aim of is to fulfill the needs of interested user groups in maintaining an International Industry standard for railway data exchange.

Members of are currently:

  • Railways
    • Infrastructure managers
    • Railway undertakings
  • Companies
    • Software developers
    • Consultancies and other
  • Authorities
  • Research Institutes and Universities


The initiative was founded in early 2002 against the background of the chronic difficulty of connecting different railway IT applications. The first railML schema was developed in 2005. After first experiences with the development and usage of railML 1.x, railML 2.0 was published in 2009. In 2014 a cooperation with UIC was started, following many state-owned railway undertakings (ÖBB, DB, SNFC, …) to become railML partners.


The development of railML takes place in working groups of experts in the area of railway software, data modeling and IT experts. The working groups are defined by the four different subschemas of railML. Each working group meets separately once every two to three months to discuss content issues and further development steps. The whole railML community meets twice a year in official conferences. The spring conference is mainly addressed at the German speaking community and therefore takes place in a German speaking country of Europe. The autumn conference usually takes place in Paris and addresses the international railML community. This conference is generally held in English. For further information about the dates of our conferences and working group meetings see our event schedule.

Open data

The 5-Star-Theory of Tim Berners-Lee defines 5 levels for open data, as well as their costs and benefits for users and publishers ( According to this theory the railML schemes are available as open non-proprietary data ('3 stars') on this website. Which means that users can manipulate the data freely, without the need to own any proprietary software package.

Industry Standard vs. Governmental Norm is a railway industry association, driven by its members. This means that also the data exchange format railML® is a railway sector driven standard used by a wide range of railways, computer programmes and projects. All development work at takes place according to the bottom-up principle, which guarantees that all reported industry needs are taken into account and can be implemented in a quick and long lasting way. Examples for successful and widespread industry standards are USB (Universal Serial Bus)Bluetooth or GSM (Global Systems for Moblie Communications).

Governmental norms, e.g. ISO or CEN, on the other hand are developed by expert groups that are in turn nominated by the nation states and afterwards implemented in a top-down manner. Governmental institutions develop and publish these norms, which are then implemented by the industry. Problems may sometimes occur as the industry voice is not always in primary focus during the development processes and the process is dependent on governmental rules and life cycles.

As an organisation stemming from the railway industry, has always been open to the possibility of using the railML standard to support the development of a governmental norm, if so desired by the members. For this reason, we are working closely with ISO in their development of a new norm (ISO 4398) relating to the railway sector. This way, it can be ensured that the needs and concerns of the industry are heard and taken into account during the development process.