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Rail Industry

Improving safety and efficiency in the rail industry

rail industry image

Today’s rail industry is faced with mounting competitive and cost pressures that call for significant improvements in reliability, operating efficiencies and rail safety. Detailed risk management is becoming increasingly important — even mandatory due to current and upcoming regulations.

The GS1 in Rail Application standards, developed together with the rail user community, enable optimised life cycle management of components/parts, tracking of rolling stock and maintenance management of infrastructure components.

We support you with our knowledge, network, tools and offerings that make rail easier, better and safer.

Already more than 100 leading rail operators, manufacturers and solution providers are on track to implement GS1 in Rail Application standards to improve various business processes.

Enabling timely condition-based maintenance

Providing improved analytics and incident investigation

Providing the foundation for safety-relevant information exchange

Identifying serious faults more easily

Enabling more effective recall management

Enabling Track & Trace of rolling stock

Standards in use

With GS1 standards, parts and components; as well as rolling stock can be uniquely identified and appropriate information exchanged. This makes it possible to track the life cycle of safety-relevant systems, assemblies and components, starting from manufacture, through the entire supply chain, operation, maintenance and scrapping.


With GS1 identification keys you can identify parts, components, plants, rolling stock, locations and many other objects in a unique and unmistakable way. The following examples show you when each identification key is used:

GTIN for parts and components of a product type

SGTIN for serialised parts and components for a single product. Usually assigned by the manufacturer

GIAI for objects already on the market that are not yet marked by the manufacturer

GLN for e.g., regions, production sites, warehouses

SSCC in logistics for e.g., cartons or pallets


To ensure the traceability of objects that are used worldwide, it must be possible to identify them uniquely. This is why each object is assigned a unique GS1 identification key in addition to the description in the master data. The identification is then encoded in a data carrier and used as the access key for the data pertaining to each object.

The following data carriers are used in rail for the identification of objects:

GS1 DataMatrix

2D barcode that can be applied directly or indirectly to products. Direct Part Marking (DPM) allows a GS1 DataMatrix code to be permanently engraved so that products can be identified for decades

Learn more about GS1 DataMatrix


In contrast to optical data carriers, with RFID, the code can be captured via radio waves over several metres and without direct visual contact

Learn more about EPC/RFID


The one-dimensional barcode is mainly used for encoding SSCCs in logistics

Learn more about GS1-128


With GS1 standards as a common language, business partners can share end-to-end information to support data synchronisation and the exchange of transactional, master and event data across the supply chain.

EPCIS for a transparent life cycle

The Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS) makes it possible to capture, exchange and evaluate all events in the life cycle of an object. This makes cross-company life cycle management of (safety) relevant products possible. The data can also be used for the analysis and optimisation of components and processes along the life cycle.

GDSN for sharing master data

In rail, there is still no standard for collecting the master data of rail industry products and sharing these with other market stakeholders using structured formats. For this reason, the Australasian Railway Association launched the project iTRACE material master data initiative in 2019.


GS1 standards keep rail companies on track
GS1 standards keep rail companies on track
Vision GS1 @ Siemens Mobility
Vision GS1 @ Siemens Mobility
How Schaeffler uses GS1 DataMatrix in their processes
How Schaeffler uses GS1 DataMatrix in their processes

Three decision support tools available to help companies implement the standard:

Brochure: GS1 Standards in the Rail industry

Global identification, labelling and data exchange for parts, components and assets

Application Standard: Identification of Components and Parts in the Rail industry

Rules on the use of the GS1 Keys and Attributes

Implementation Guide: AutoID in Rail

Identification of rolling stock, components and spare parts in the rail sector

Application Standard: Exchange of Component/Part Lifecycle Data in the Rail Industry

Exchange of visibility event data for lifecycle tracking

Application Standard: GS1 EPCIS for Rail Vehicle Visibility

GS1 transport & logistics standard that explains how to implement EPCIS rail vehicle visibility