Marking of train carriages – RFID in Rail

RFID marking allows automatic reading of the status of train wagons, even when trains are driven at high speed. RFID tags placed on the wagons and RFID readers located along the tracks provide information about the temperature of the wheel bearings, damage to the wheels and pantograph, the location of the delivery and the order in which locomotives and wagons are located. This means lower maintenance of tracks and vehicles and thereby fewer delays and facilitates loading and unloading.

The train companies themselves are responsible for marking and identifying their locomotives and wagons. The identity needs to be unique in relation to all other locomotives and wagons in Europe, which is created with a number series from GS1 called GIAI (Global Individual Asset Identifier).


To mark your train wagons with a unique identity, you as a train operator need to be a customer of GS1 and subscribe to a GS1 Company prefix.

Tip! When asked what your company will use the number sequence for, enter: “Other”. If this option is not possible, then enter: “Mark items and packages with barcode EAN-13.”

When asked about the approximate number of items that are to be identified with item number, it is recommended that you as a train operator enter 10 000, since it controls how large number series you are assigned.

Get RFID tag

In order to read information from your train wagons, you need to mark them with RFID tags. The RFID tags are programmed with a unique number, which you create in the next step, and place on the sides of the train wagons. There is a wide range of suppliers on the market that offer RFID tags.

Create numbers that identify the train wagon

Using GS1 company prefix, you create a unique number for each train wagon called GIAI (Global Individual Asset Identifier). The number is created with a GS1 Company prefix, a so called side indicator and a EVN-number (European Vehicle Number).

  1. Enter your GS1 Company prefix consisting of 6-9 digits.
  2. Specify a side indicator. The side indicator distinguishes the sides of the wagons where the RFID tags are located. Read the RFID in Rail guide to see which side is numbered 1 and which side is numbered 2 and how to place the RFID tags.
  3. Enter your 12-digit EVN-number (European Vehicle Number).

Standards for RFID tag and reader

In order for your RFID tags and readers to communicate with each other correctly, it is important that you comply with applicable technical standards. GS1 has together with system developers and users developed technical standards that describe how RFID tags and readers communicate and exchange information.

GS1 also has standards that describe how the RFID reader should be controlled and managed and describe how event information should be shared. GS1 standards for RFID are called EPC.

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