Laying New Track

Digitising the world’s railways

buildingSMART has expanded its infrastructure community once again by creating the Railway Room, an endeavor that has been more than two years in the making. A unique domain in its own right, rail is a complex “system of systems.” As framed during the 2018 Standards Summit in Paris when the Room was officially established, “openBIM is the engine for digitisation in the railway network.” To have smart cities and infrastructure in the future, we need create comparable and consistent data sets. This can only be achieved with open, standardised information.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in April 2017, whereby nine parties—bSI, CRBIM and seven European transport authorities and providers—agreed to collaborate on the IFC Rail project. With a €5 million budget and stakeholders from several international rail operators, the project is a significant part of bSI’s activities.

The IFC Rail project is intended to accelerate and exploit new digital opportunities for railway systems and create a comprehensive and applicable digital representation of the entire railway ecosystem that will support all phases of the lifecycle. This provides the basis of interoperable support systems, reduced complexity, secure and safe solutions and reduced costs for all stakeholders.

The intercontinental project includes the following members:

  • CRBIM (China Railway BIM Alliance)
  • RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana)
  • SNCF Réseau (Société nationale des chemins de fer français)
  • MINnd (Modélisation des INformations INteropérables pour les INfrastructures Durables)
  • FTA (Finnish Transport Agency)
  • SBB (Swiss Federal Railways)
  • TRV (Trafikverket – Swedish Transport Administration)

The founding session of the Railway Room during the Paris Summit introduced the Steering Committee and Winfried Stix as Chair. It also marked the signing of the IFC Railway Consortium Agreement and approval of budget.

Priorities now include the common data schema project and identification of definitions and user requirements across the infrastructure domains (rail, road, bridge, etc.), forming an ambitious schedule. The Steering Committee meets virtually once a month and in person at summits. bSI’s newest Room also plans to work closely alongside the Infrastructure Room to coordinate upcoming technical summits and the common data schema project.

For more information about how you can be involved, please email

YK0A2617 winfried_web