|Title:||RIV/UIC numbers and codes|
|Summary:||An explanation of the 12-digit RIV numbering system and some of the associated codes|
|Added:||16th Oct 2019|
Contents: Exchange/Interoperability Codes - Country/Railway Codes - Number Blocks - Serial Numbers - Check Digits - Type Codes - Vehicle Keeper Markings (VKMs) - Other Symbols - Sources of Information
UIC numbers (sometimes also referred to as RIV numbers or EVNs - European Vehicle Numbers) are a Europe-wide standard method of numbering railway rolling stock. They have been used since the 1960s for all vehicles registered to work on, to or from the continent, and since 2008 have also been applied to all new-build (and some converted) domestic UK wagons.
The standard numbers comprise 12 digits and convey quite a lot of information. There are also associated alphabetic codes that are usually displayed alongside. This article will attempt to explain the meanings of the various numbers and letters, although as will be seen, some aspects are not as straight-forward as you might think.
As can be seen in the examples alongside, the numeric part of the vehicle identity is made up of 5 blocks of numbers, separated by spaces or hyphens. The normal convention on this website and elsewhere is to quote numbers using full stops between the first four blocks and a hyphen between the last two. Thus, the wagons illustrated here would be shown as 82.70.6723.675-8, 37.80.7898.062-0 and 37.84.4667.019-2. Any letters shown on the wagons are not part of the actual identity and so are not usually quoted. Their meanings are outlined below.
Although the layout of the lettering on actual wagons can suggest otherwise, all 5 numerical elements are part of the wagon's number. Considering the examples shown here, it may look as though the blue wagon's number is 4667 019-2, but it is actually 37.84.4667.019-2.
Three examples of UIC number data panels.
The components of a UIC number and type code.
The first two digits of a UIC number indicate the vehicle's interoperability in terms of track gauge and compliance with international standards. Under the RIV (Regolamento Internazionale Veicoli) system, these were known as exchange codes, and they also provided information as to the ownership of the vehicle. From 2006 onwards, the codes were those stipulated in the European Railway Agency's Technical Specifications of Interoperability (TSI).
The codes are shown in a table in Appendix P of the European Union document mentioned at the bottom of this page. However, unless I am reading it wrong, there seem to be a couple of issues with this table. Firstly, the table is not a simple list of codes. It is 2-dimensional, with each row representing the first digit of the code and each column the second. All well and good, but there appear to be conflicts. For example, the row above the body of the table states that all codes ending in even numbers (except 0) are for variable gauge vehicles, while all codes ending in odd numbers (except 9) are for fixed gauge vehicles. However, the row below the body of the table states that the former are for domestic traffic vehicles, while the latter are for vehicles suitable for 'International traffic by special agreement'. This seems to suggest that no vehicles with variable gauge running gear can be used internationally. Also, should there not be a code for vehicles that can operate internationally without special agreement? Secondly, there seems to be no difference between several of the codes. As far as I can see, codes 23 and 25 mean the same thing, as do 33 and 35 and various other sets.
Another ambiguity relates to codes ending in 1 and 2. In square brackets it states that these are for vehicles 'of which the keeper is a railway undertaking listed in part 4'. I take this as meaning the equivalent of 'not a private owner'. However, the equivalent table for coaching stock states that 'the conditions in square brackets are transitional and will be deleted...'. Does this apply to the wagons table too?
A further problem is that some recent UK wagons have interoperability codes that, according to the table, are wrong. The HKA and HLA hopper wagons both use the 82 code, which should apply to variable gauge wagons. I am fairly certain that these wagons do not have variable gauge running gear! Similarly the IDA container flat show code 32
Taking all this into account, and in the hope that someone will correct me if I have got it wrong, I have produced this table showing what I believe to be the current codes and my interpretation of their meanings. Codes that are currently used on wagons registered to work to or in the UK are highlighted in green.
Wagons can sometimes be given amended exchange codes without any other renumbering (apart from the check digit). For example, the Tiphook PIA/KPA hopper wagons started out as 83.70.6905.000 upwards and were later changed to 33.70.6905.000 upwards.
Letters sometimes appear next to (or below) the exchange code. Until 2006 these would most commonly be RIV, indicating that the wagon was permitted to work internationally. Since then, the letters TEN have replaced or supplemented this. Standing for Trans-European Networks, this shows that the wagon is compliant with the TSI (Technical Specification of Interoperability).
The TSI document stipulates that 'In a given country, the 7 digits of technical characteristics and serial number are sufficient to identify uniquely a vehicle inside each group of wagons, hauled passenger vehicles, tractive rolling stock and special vehicles'. Thus the interoperability code is not part of a wagon's unique identity. For example, numbers 31.70.1234.001 and 33.70.1234.001 could not be used on two different vehicles at the same time. This rule has already been broken in the UK. The EWS IIA hoppers built in 2008 were numbered up to 33.70.6955.101-4, but then a further batch of similar wagons for Mendip Rail started at 37.70.6955.100. The numbers xx.70.6955.100 and xx.70.6955.101 were thus duplicated. Apparently TOPS refers to UIC numbered vehicles without reference to the exchange code (which is treated like a prefix) but including the check digit. So the computer would recognise 7069551006, 7069551014, 7069551002 and 7069551010 as four validly unique identities.
The third and fourth digits of a UIC number indicate the vehicle's base country. Prior to 2006 the code indicated the railway company, and there were thus several instances of more than one code applying to a single country. Privately owned wagons would show the code of the railway that they were based on, and would also have a letter P in a box alongside the number. The changes in the European rail industry (notably privatisation) resulted in the meaning of this code being changed to be the actual country that the vehicle is based in. However, a transitional period was allowed. This explains (for example) why wagons registered by the Alsatte private operator in Germany are still permitted to use the 68 code when they should now be 80. The code 68 has already been reassigned to Afghanistan.
The current standard is for the country's alpha code to appear alongside the numerical code, where space permits. The alpha code is underlined and followed by a hyphen and then the Vehicle Keeper Marking (ie owner, see below).
Codes used on wagons currently registered to work to or in the UK are highlighted in green. Codes that are no longer applicable appear in italics.
Digits 5 to 8 are the number block, also known as the class. These are related to the type codes (see below) and there are detailed documents stipulating which number blocks must be used for each type code. However, at the highest level these blocks are allocated as follows:
Digits 9 to 11 are the individual wagon serial number. These usually start at 000 or 001 but there are no rules dictating this, and batches of sub-types often start at multiples of 100 (eg 400) or indeed at any number. For example, the IIA hoppers built for EWS in 2008 were numbered from 33.70.6955.068 upwards, so as to follow on from the similar but domestically-numbered HOAs (320000 to 320067).
One issue with this is in cases where a batch of wagons totals more than one thousand. Numbers 000 to 999 can be used, but then the following wagons have to have a 'legal' number block (or class), and this might not be consecutive. Using a made-up example, this explains why 31.71.1234.999 might not be followed by 31.71.1235.000.
As the name suggests, the check digit is used to check the accuracy of the number. This is required since there are lots of times when wagon numbers have to be manually entered into computer systems (for example when logging a train's consist). The check digit is calculated on the basis of the first 11 digits of the number, as shown below. If any of the digits are entered incorrectly, the check digit will not match that worked out by the computer. This can then be highlighted to the user. The system is not fool-proof however. If two digits are entered incorrectly, there is a slim chance that the resulting check digit will be the same as the correct one.
The process for calculating check digits is as follows:
Step 1: Multiply the digits of the number by alternate 2s and 1s.
Step 2: Add together all the digits from the answers.
Step 3: Subtract this from the next highest mutiple of 10.
The result is the check digit.
Example 1: Number 82.70.6723.634
1 + 6 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 0 + 1 + 2 + 7 + 4 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 8 = 45
50 - 45 = 5
Example 2: Number 37.84.4667.019
6 + 7 + 1 + 6 + 4 + 8 + 6 + 1 + 2 + 7 + 0 + 1 + 1 + 8 = 58
60 - 58 = 2
There are various tools available on-line to calculate check digits, including one that I have created here.
Type codes are alphabetic codes giving detailed information about the wagon characteristics, rather similar to UK TOPS codes. The first letter is always a capital and is known as the Category letter. This gives the broad type as listed below.
One or more lower-case letters will then be appended. These are the Index Letters and their precise meaning varies from type to type. There are articles on the internet (see bottom of this page) that go into more detail than is possible here. However, I will give a couple of examples:
82.70.6723.675-8 is type Fabnooss.
F = Special Open Wagon,
a = with 4 axles,
b = high-capacity non-bogie wagon, (surely incorrect on a HKA?)
n = greater than 60 tonnes,
oo = with bulk gravity unloading, axial, low-level,
ss = capable of running at up to 120 km/h.
37.84.4667.019-2 is type Sfhimmns.
S = Special flat wagon with bogies,
f = suitable for travelling to/from Great Britain,
h = for sheet metal coils loaded eye-to-side,
i = with movable top cover and fixed end walls,
mm = with a loading length of less than 15m,
n = greater than 60 tonnes,
s = capable of running at up to 100 km/h.
Starting in 2006, the marking of a UIC-numbered vehicle should now include the Vehicle Keeper, or owner. This appears after the alpha country code and is a 2 to 5 letter code, often based on the owner's name or initials (for example DB Schenker Rail (UK) Ltd is DBSUK).
All train operators are assigned a VKM, even though they may not operate UIC numbered vehicles. UK examples include CR (Chiltern Railways), DRS (Direct Rail Services) and HDL (Hastings Diesels Ltd).
The list of VKMs is frequently updated and is far too long to reproduce here. As of January 2015 the list was on its 58th edition and ran to 196 pages. Links to download the latest lists can be found at http://www.era.europa.eu/Document-Register/Pages/list-VKM.aspx.
As the photos at the top of this page show, many international wagons carry a lot of other informative symbols and inscriptions. In terms of wagons working to the UK, the anchor and CT symbols are common. These indicate the ability of the wagon to be used on train ferries and/or through the channel tunnel respectively. Other symbols provide information about the wagon's dimensions and capacity. The DB Schenker Wagon Catalog provides much more detail on this subject. See the links at the bottom of this page.
The information on this page has come from a variety of sources. Links are provided below.
DB Schenker Freight Wagon Catalog
https://www.rail.dbschenker.de/rail-deutschland-en/products_services/eservices/freight_wagon_catalog.html (The link to download the PDF is on the right-hand side.)
The above link no longer works. A 2011 version of the document (with 114 pages) can still be accessed at https://nl.dbcargo.com/resource/blob/1430008/9767e97bb070ccbbf77efd84e7d64948/freight_wagon_catalog_v2011-data.pdf
This 57-page PDF has lots of useful information including an explanation of the wagon numbering and marking standards, a table of common inscriptions and symbols, a list of UIC country codes, detailed tables of the type codes (category and index letters), a list of the number blocks used by DB wagons (with their type codes) and information and diagrams of most DB wagon types.
These pages cover many of the topics above, including how check digits are calculated, a full list of type codes (category and index letters) and a list of country codes.
Official Journal of the European Union documentation
Appendix P (pages 59 to 106) also covers many of the topics, including numbering format and marking standards, country codes, a table of interoperability codes and another list of type codes.
Railways Through Europe
This webpage was last updated in 2004 but therefore helpfully lists the railway codes (which were soon to be replaced by country codes), including the many private railways.