Labelling railway wagons - RFID in Rail

RFID readers scans a wagon´s status automatically, even when the train is travelling at high speed. For the status of a wagon to be read it must carry RFID tags on each side of the wagon with information about its identity.

Train operators are responsible for labelling their own locomotives and wagons.

The wagon’s identity must be unique in relation to all other locomotives and wagons in Europe. A unique identity is created using a number series from GS1.

GS1 provides various different types of identifiers and number series. The identifier for railway wagons is called GIAI (Global Individual Asset Identifier).

Create the number that identifies the railway wagon

In order to label your railway wagons, you as an operator need to be a GS1 customer and subscribe to a GS1 Company Prefix.

How to become a GS1 customer

Using the GS1 Company Prefix you create a unique number for each railway wagon. This number is called GIAI, Global Individual Asset Identifier. The number is then programmed into the RFID tags placed on each side of the railway wagon.

The number is made up of the GS1 Company Prefix, a side indicator and the EVN (European Vehicle Number)

  • A GS1 Company Prefix consists of 6-9 digits and ensures that the identifier is unique. It also shows who is responsible for this railway wagon and is therefore subscribed to by the train operator.
  • The side indicator identifies the side of the wagon. Read the guide “RFID in Rail” to see which side should be numbered 1 or 2.
  • EVN: 12-digit European Vehicle Number (EVN).

This is how you create a GIAI for a railway wagon using a 9-digit GS1 Company Prefix:


You will find the RFID in Rail guide here

Hints for ordering a GS1 Company Prefix

Many different organisations order a GS1 Company Prefix to create different types of GS1 numbers. Therefore, you can get questions during the ordering process which might seem less relevant for numbering a railway wagon. Here are some hints prior to ordering.

1) When asked what your company is going to use the number series for, choose “Other”. If this option is not available, choose “Label items and packages with EAN-13 barcodes.”

2) When asked for the approximate number of items in the product range that are to be identified with item numbers, we recommend that as a train operator you enter 10,000. (This question affects the capacity of the number series that you are allocated.)

Regardless of what purpose you enter when ordering, you can subsequently use the GS1 Company Prefix to create other GS1 identifiers.

Of course, the GS1 Company Prefix can be used for much more that numbering railway wagons. Contact our customer service to learn more, or why not visit the GS1 Sweden Concept Centre?

EPC standard for communication between RFID tags and readers

For railway wagons, a technical standard is used which specifies how the RFID tags and readers communicate and exchange information. It is called EPCglobal UHF “Gen2” air interface protocol and applies to systems operating in the 860-960 MHz frequency band.

EPCIS standards for sharing information

EPCIS (Electronic Product Code Information Services) EPCIS is a GS1 standard that enables trading partners to share information about the physical movement and status of products as they travel throughout the supply chain.

Read more about EPCIS