Hit Rail provides the Common Interface (CI) middleware and the Central Reference Database (CRD) on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis, so that railway companies can connect to their own Common Interface remotely, without the need to deploy and operate their own CI and CRD.
The European Commission, in order to support European railway cohesion, has promoted and set out the definition of the technical specifications for the Common Interface and the Central Reference Database for the exchange of rail messages, based on Web Services and XML, under the framework of the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI).
The European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) recommends the use of the Common Interface specifications and the Central Reference Database for all exchanges between Railway Undertakings (RUs) (both freight and passengers), Infrastructure Managers (IMs) and other stakeholders, such as port authorities, wagon keepers, freight forwarders, etc.
Under the auspices of the European Commission, a number of RUs and IMs, members of the Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer (UIC), have created a Common Components Group (CCG) that has developed a standard implementation of the Common Interface software and the Central Reference Database. The CI software and the CRD are now maintained by Rail Net Europe (RNE).
The Common Interface
The CI is a middleware software implementing the Common Interface web service specification promoted by ERA and based on the TAF and TAP TSI regulation. By using the Common Interface, railway companies (RUs, IMs, and other rail stakeholders) ensure interoperability and compliance with other companies also using an implementation of the CI.
In terms of external connectivity (via Internet and/or via the Hit Rail Hermes VPN), the Common Interface provides a web service for routing and channeling any TAF and TAP TSI message, such as Path Request, Train Running or Train Composition messages to and from the CIs of other railway companies. For internal usage, it provides a variety of adapters (web service, FTP, file system, JMS, MQ, IP socket) to deliver messages to and from the internal applications of the company using it.
The Central Reference Database
The Central Reference Database (CRD) is defined by the ERA TAF and TAP TSI regulation. It contains the codes for countries, companies, primary locations, and subsidiary locations to be used in TAF and TAP messages and applications. The CRD is locally replicated in the CI middleware, so that company applications can have access to the reference data or can locally export the reference data.
The CI and CRD as a managed service
Hit Rail provides the CI middleware and the CRD on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis, so railway companies can connect to their own CI remotely, avoiding the need to deploy and operate the CI and CRD themselves.
The CI requires a specific software stack using Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Windows. It also needs to be regularly updated, requires specific training for its configuration and operation, and staff must have knowledge of the TAF/TAP TSI regulation.
By using the CI and CRD managed by Hit Rail, railway companies can significantly simplify the process of TSI compliance, avoiding the need to train employees on the CI and CRD and the need to dedicate their personnel to configuring it and updating it when necessary. These tasks are taken over by Hit Rail under a high availability SLA, so companies can focus exclusively on their own applications processes without adding more complexity to TAF and TAP TSI implementation.
Collaboration with RNE
Hit Rail has entered into an agreement with RNE for the provision of the Common Interface software and the Central Reference Database licences to rail stakeholders (RUs, IMs, etc.) as part of Hit Rail’s CI service portfolio.
The agreement states that Hit Rail runs the CI and locally synchronises the CRD on behalf of the partner sending or receiving TAF and TAP TSI messages. Therefore, Hit Rail acts as the nominated Facilities Manager handling the partner’s administration of the CI software and the CRD.
Who should use this service?
This service addresses the needs of RUs, IMs, and other rail stakeholders that prefer to dedicate their human and financial resources to other tasks rather than the deployment and operation of the Common Interface middleware and the Central Reference Database within their internal existing IT systems.
Hit Rail hosts and manages the CI software and the CRD on Hit Rail’s own secure cloud IT infrastructure. The basic Common Interface package includes the following services:
- The CI software hosting in the cloud, including updates and patches,
- Connectivity and security, including the certificate for SSL encryption,
- Configuration and management of remote partners, message types and message versions,
- Configuration of internal (legacy) interfaces and routings,
- Synchronisation of the local CRD with the Central Reference Database managed by RNE,
- Dimensioning for the required message volumes.
In brief, Hit Rail will proactively and completely manage the CI and the CRD as a service, providing security, stability, and performance. This includes entering into a Service Level Agreement, systems monitoring, incident handling, and the provision of a 24x7 help desk.
Hit Rail currently hosts and manages the Common Interface software and the Central Reference Database on a SaaS basis for several European railway companies, both IMs and RUs. References can be provided upon request.
Additional information and documentation on Common Interface software and the Central Reference Database can be found on the RNE Common Component System (CCS) web site.
For more information on Hit Rail’s Common Interface and Central Reference Database Software as a Service (SaaS), please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org