Telematic Application for Freight and Passengers will enable a new level of interoperability among European railways. This will bring substantial business and service benefits as a result of cross-industry standardised processes and messaging standards.

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The Network Rail TAF TAP Programme is co-financed by the European Union’s TEN-T programme.

The sole responsibility of this publication lies with the author. The European Union is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.

What are TAF and TAP?

Telematics are the technologies used to transmit information over long distances. In rail, TAF and TAP systems comprise:

Telematics applications for Freight services (TAF): including information systems (real-time monitoring of freight and trains), marshalling and allocation systems, reservation, payment and invoicing systems, management of connections with other modes of transport and production of electronic accompanying documents.

Telematics Applications for Passenger services (TAP): including systems providing passengers with information before and during the journey, reservation and payment systems, luggage management and management of connections between trains and with other modes of transport.

Introduction to the TAF TAP TSIs

Technical specifications regulate technologies. In this context, there are Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSIs).

All EU member states have obligations in relation to the interoperability of national rail systems under Directive 2008/57/EC, which the UK has implemented through UK implementing legislation (Railways (Interoperability) Regulation 2006). All TSIs are drafted and implemented pursuant to the Directive.

As with the majority of the TSIs, they are published in the form of EU Regulations. This means TAF TAP TSIs and the obligations contained therein – on infrastructure managers (such as Network Rail), railway undertakings and other stakeholders, are binding on those individuals.

The benefits of standardisation

The exchange of messages in a standardised format is intended to:

  • improve interoperability across European railways
  • reduce technical barriers to entry in member states’ rail markets
  • make life easier for passengers through the freer exchange of timetable, ticketing and update information

The types of organisations affected

The TAF TAP TSIs set standards for the management and exchange of data between:

  • Infrastructure Managers
  • Railway Undertakings
  • Wagon Keepers
  • Station Managers

The type of information involved

The information that is contained and underpins the messages set out in the TAF TAP TSI regulations are used to support business processes for Path Management, Train Preparation and Train Running.

Network Rail’s role

The Department for Transport has asked Network Rail to coordinate the TAF TAP TSIs implementation plan across Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The implementation plan and coordination work done by Network Rail will facilitate UK rail organisations’ preparation for and compliance with the legislation.

Details regarding Network Rail’s role can be found on the Department for Transport website.


The Department for Transport has accepted Network Rail’s plans to complete the TAF element of the programme by the end of 2018.

Telematics applications for freight include:

  • real-time monitoring of freight and trains
  • marshalling and allocation systems
  • reservation and payment / invoicing systems
  • management of connections with other modes of transport
  • production of electronic accompanying documents

It was decided that TAF would be implemented through the use of existing shared industry systems. This falls under the scope of Network Operations: Operations Management Portfolio.


In June 2015 the Department for Transport decided to take a different approach for TAP. It was agreed that the TAF TAP TSIs programme would:

  • maintain dialogue with the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and the National Contact Point for TAP, and defer to them in discussions/reporting on TAP implementation in the UK
  • represent Network Rail and European Infrastructure Managers at European TAP meetings
  • ensure that Network Rail fulfils its TAP obligations as a Station Manager

There is a significant overlap between freight applications, but telematics applications for passenger services include systems for:

  • providing passengers with information before and during their journey
  • reservations and payments
  • luggage management and bicycle reservations
  • management of connections between trains and with other modes of transport

The TAF consultation phase

A series of consultation workshops focusing on Freight Operating Companies were held through late 2015 and early 2016 with all active participants. This critical phase:

  • built consensus around interpretation in respect of some elements of legislation
  • gathered and define the business requirements
  • agreed the principles of the technical architecture

The consultation phase formally concluded on 4 February 2016.

The TAF solutions phase

The objective for Network Rail, in its work coordinating the implementation of the TAF TAP TSIs, is to agree and document:

  • a clear set of requirements for UK suppliers
  • an effective ‘solution’ of business processes
  • robust work packages to make the necessary changes

This phase involves deeper engagement of the industry stakeholders, particularly infrastructure managers (IMs) and railway undertakings (RUs).

A guiding principle is that, wherever possible, all affected parties should minimise the impact on existing business processes and applications. In order to meet the Programme deadline of 2018, the solutions phase needs to be completed by May 2017.


For more information on TAF TAP or to suggest improvements to this page, please email TAFTAPNetworkRail@networkrail.co.uk

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