The Inland Transport Committee (ITC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe adopted new rules on the Permanent Identification of Railway Rolling Stock last Friday in Geneva.

Unique Rail Vehicle Identification System (URVIS)

These regulations create a new standard and responsibilities for permanently attaching an identifier system to railway rolling stock, as required by the Luxembourg Protocol to the Cape Town Convention on Mobile Equipment (the Luxembourg Rail Protocol), which is expected to come into force later this year.

The Luxembourg Rail Protocol

The Luxembourg Rail Protocol to the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment is a new global treaty under the auspices of UNIDROIT, the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law. The Protocol seeks to make it much easier and cheaper for the private sector to finance railway rolling stock. It sets up a new system for recognition, priorities and enforcement of creditor and lessor rights, which will be registered in an international registry based in Luxembourg, accessible to everyone over the internet .

The Protocol is expected to enter into force in contracting states in late 2023. The European Union (in respect of its competences). Luxembourg, Sweden, Spain and Gabon have ratified the Protocol. France, Germany, Switzerland, Mozambique, Italy, South Africa and the UK have already signed the Protocol and many other states, including Kenya, China, Malta, Eswatini, Namibia, Senegal, Ethiopia, Finland, Ukraine and Mauritius, are looking at adoption of the Protocol. The Protocol is endorsed by many international rail organisations (including OTIF, UIC).

New Public Registry

The new rules are the 60th legal instrument and global standard established by the ITC. They will play an important role in facilitating more secure and cheaper financing of all types of railway rolling stock once the Luxembourg Rail Protocol applies. The Protocol establishes a new public international registry based in Luxembourg, at which the security interests of banks and lessors will be registered against the URVIS identifier issued by the registry. The adoption of these rules follow the ratification last month by Spain of the „Luxembourg Rail Protocol“. This 4th ratification, plus that of the European Union, has opened the way for completion of the technical work needed to establish the international registry.


These Rules are an important step forward because they deal with a critical requirement of the Luxembourg Rail Protocol, which will reduce risk for private sector lenders and lessors providing finance for the rail sector, in turn lowering financing costs for the rail industry.

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