IDX4rail kick-off: infrastructure standard for public transport

by Patricia Sambe ( (comments: 0)

IDX4rail kick-off: infrastructure standard for public transport

The IDX4rail project "Consolidation and standardization of the infrastructure data model and interface landscape in the tram and railway sector in Germany" has been launched. VDV’s ( Association of German Transport Companies) Vice President Joachim Berends said, "The project starts at the right time. IDX4rail will lead to the development of a standard widely accepted in the tram and railway industry. It is the right approach that municipal transport companies and small rail infrastructure operators get involved as practical partners from the very beginning.” The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport through its mFUND innovation initiative with a total of 1.549 million euros. Berends goes on to explain that "with IDX4rail there will be a uniform, open, and future-proof overall system, which consists of a data model and data exchange format for applications in rail transport."

Due to the dynamic digitization of business processes in the railway sector, this form of data exchange has become part of daily life. However, it is characterized by a number of different systems: In the past, a variety of interfaces were developed, which were mostly based on non-free and limited (proprietary) solutions.

“This contradicts the requirements of the data suppliers for a clear and internationally standardized interface landscape. Adverse consequences include the more demanding maintenance and updates of the interfaces combined with unclear responsibilities for standardization, which in turn weakens the overall digitization and decelerates its efficiency-enhancing effects", says Joachim Berends.

Aiming at enhancing efficiency in maintenance, the industry association VDV supports the project so that infrastructure data can be standardized and simplified. The established standard IDMVU (Infrastructure data management for transportation companies), which serves the exchange between the transport and railway infrastructure companies, should also be taken into consideration.

IDMVU, (in VDV publication 456) as a German standard for tramway and light rail, together with railML (also published as ISO/TS 4398:2022) as an established worldwide standard for railway and heavy rail should in a first step be analysed and examined regarding modelling.

In a second step, common possible modellings are to be found to describe elements of the infrastructure occurring in both areas and standards in the same way and to document them in a freely accessible manner.

The project is rounded off with a practical test at the participating transport companies / EIU [IM] and the published publications of converters and viewers as well as links to other standards (timetable, BIM, etc.).

Project partners are:

Two years are scheduled for this project which took off in January 2023. We are open for input. So please feel free to contact us with your questions or ideas.

Time Table, Rolling Stock and Signalling are not involved in this endeavor.

About the BMDV's mFUND: Since 2016, as a part of the mFUND innovation initiative, BMDV has been funding data-based research and development projects for the digital and networked mobility of the future. Project funding is supplemented by active professional networking between stakeholders from politics, business, administration and research and by making open data available on the mobile library. You can find more information at

About the initiative: The initiative came about in 2001 in the context of the problematic linking of different railway software. Since then, the railML project partners have been working on simplifying data link to exchange information between different computer applications. The description language railML® (Railway Markup Language), which was consequently developed based on XML schemata, makes a significant contribution to standardization by providing a universal exchange format. railML® is a joint project among railway companies, software and consulting companies as well as international scientific institutions. Since 2022, it has been serving as a globally valid ISO standard (ISO/TA 4398:2022). Not defined by central authorities, the railML® standard is being developed through the process of ongoing advancement and communication of the private partners. Participation in the initiative is open to all institutions and companies.

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