ORFEUS - Objectives

Handling of paper transport documents is very costly and presents serious technological limitations for the railway transport. With the intention of paperless technology, major European railway undertakings deployed information systems to collect and process data about their consignments. Next logical step was to interconnect these companies' systems to exchange consignment information of international transports. For this purpose, central system called ORFEUS was developed.

ORFEUS is an information system developed and operated by RailData. Since 1995, ORFEUS provides the electronic data exchange of the consignment note data between the co-operating railway undertakings using its central database. In the first step the data are sent in parallel to the paper CIM consignment note (or CUV wagon notes data for empty wagons). In 2006 the ORFEUS was migrated to the XML-CTD message using system, in particular to fulfil the requirements related to the coming into force of the new international rail transport law CIM. In 2009, the system was extended with  the ECN message format  and new message flows. 

ORFEUS enabled re-engineering of the European freight rail logistics. Data is delivered by the forwarding railway undertaking to ORFEUS and from there distributed to other railway undertakings involved in the transportation. With ORFEUS it is no more necessary to collect the consignment or wagon note data on the borders or at takeover. This way the system improves the speed and reliability of international freight rail transport and enables significant cost savings.

The eRailFreight project focuses on replacement of paper transport documents by electronic data exchange. In this project the railway organisations - International Rail Transport Committee (CIT), International Union of Railways (UIC) and RailData - collaborated on the implementation of the Electronic Consignment Note message (ECN). Based on CITs legal and functional specifications, RAILDATA developed the technical specifications for the ECN exchange. In 2018 also specifications for the CIM-SMGS consignment note and message were developed.

With the ECN message also the comprehensive ECN and PCN message exchange scenarios (flows) were integrated into ORFEUS application. Thus, ORFEUS became the core of a central scenario for exchange of commercial data between co-operating European railway undertakings. Thanks to ORFEUS, the rail sector has the tools to achieve the original target: runs transports paperless. This becomes reality between several ORFEUS members already. ORFEUS is core system for digitalisation of railway transport documents.