The railML.org initiative was founded in early 2002 in response to the background of the constant challenges 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. From 2014 to 2017 a cooperation with UIC in the ERIM project was performed, following many state-owned railway undertakings (ÖBB, DB, SBB, SNCF, …) to become railML partners. After the end of the project with UIC, some of the railways intensified the cooperation within the framework of a promoting partnership. This enabled railML.org e.V., as the sponsor of the work, to drive forward the development of the railML-3 schema line and to continue the maintenance of the RailTopoModel with the entire railway sector.
The aim of railML.org is to fulfill the needs of interested user groups in maintaining an International Industry Standard for railway data exchange.
Members of railML.org are currently:
- Infrastructure managers
- Railway undertakings
- Software developers
- Consultancies and other
- Research Institutes and Universities
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 railML.org 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.
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. You can learn more about this theory at https://5stardata.info/en/. According to this theory, the railML schemes are accessible as open non-proprietary data ('3 stars') on this website. This availability allows users to manipulate the data freely, without the necessity of owning any proprietary software package.
Industry Standard vs. Governmental Norm
railML.org 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 railML.org 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 mostly developed by expert groups and afterwards implemented in a top-down manner. Usually, mainly governmental institutions develop and publish these norms, which are then implemented by the industry. As the industry voice is not always present and in the primary focus during the development processes, some needs and real-life applications might not be registered by the developers and therefore not taken into account. This can lead to problems in the implementation of the standard.
However, as an organisation stemming from the railway industry, railML.org has always been open to the possibility of using the railML standard to support the development of such a governmental norm, if so desired by the members and community. For this reason, we are now working closely with ISO in their development of a new norm relating to the railway sector. This way, it can be ensured that the needs and concerns of the industry are heard during the development and that it will be a norm tailored to the users.