The Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) promotes, improves and facilitates international traffic by rail. The main areas of activities of OTIF are technical interoperability, dangerous goods and railway contract law. OTIF develops uniform legal regimes for the contracts of carriage of passengers and goods.

Through its main convention named COTIF, OTIF sets out legal terms concerning the liability, the termination of contracts and the legal framework for contracts between Railways Undertakings (RUs) and Infrastructure Managers (IMs) in the countries which have ratified it. IMs will need to apply these rules.

The Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) is OTIFs reference text. It is accompanied by seven appendices, that include rules on (1) the carriage of passengers and (2) goods, (3) dangerous goods, (4) the use of vehicles, (5) the use of the rail infrastructure, (6) validation of technical standards and (7) the technical admission of railway vehicles.

EIM in action

  • EIM is an official negotiating party in OTIF’s revision committee;
  • EIM participates in the OTIF Working Groups;
  • EIM supports a scope of application of COTIF which is fully clarified, notably with regards to the terminology being used;
  • EIM aims to safeguard the financial sustainability of IMs, especially concerning the indirect liability regime/recourse of the carrier models.


  • During 2019, OTIF worked on the preparations for the entry into force of the ‘Luxembourg Rail Protocol’. This protocol aims to reduce the risk for those who finance rail equipment and rolling stock. It does so by setting up a new legal regime for the recognition and enforcement of securities, particularly those of lenders, lessors and conditional vendors when these securities are in railway rolling stock.

Outlook 2020

  • EIM will continue to participate in the OTIF Working Groups and General Assemblies;
  • EIM will continue to closely monitor the output of OTIF’s legal group of experts and will remain well informed about any possible upcoming change or revision of the rules

Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail

Strategic Vision