Delivering international regulations to ensure efficient rail transportation

Posted: 6 September 2018 | | No comments yet

Aleksandr Kuzmenko, Head of the Legal Department of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) provides some highlights on the current development of international railway law.


During 2018, the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) is celebrating 125 years of application of its rules on the carriage of goods by rail (including dangerous goods) and 90 years of its rules on the carriage of passengers. These tried and tested rules originate from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and are now applied on three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.

The aim of OTIF is now broadly defined as: “to promote, improve and facilitate, in all respects, international traffic by rail, in particular by contributing to the removal, in the shortest time possible, of obstacles to the crossing of frontiers in international rail traffic, while taking into account special public interests, to the extent that the causes of these obstacles are within the responsibility of States”. 

To achieve this general aim, specific instruments are available under the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF): The development of systems of uniform law (appendices to the Convention) or ‘soft law’ in the form of non-binding instruments, including recommendations and best practices, etc.

OTIF’s supreme body, the General Assembly, will take decisions at its 13th session on 25-26 September 2018 on the development of unified railway law. It will adopt amendments to the Convention and give directions for the further development of railway law.

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