ArcGIS Railroads Data Model - New!

01-17-2024 01:00 AM
Esri Regular Contributor
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The availability of a practical and up-to-date data model template, tailored to the unique needs of an industry, is one of the keys to a successful GIS implementation, whether one’s use of Esri software is new or long-standing.

For this reason, Esri collaborates with industry and academic leaders to continually evolve a range of geodatabase data model templates. The intent of Esri data model templates is to provide users with a best practice, industry-specific starting point.

Most users start with these data model templates; then they refine and extend them to meet their specific needs and requirements. Esri data model templates work with the ArcGIS platform and reflect Esri’s view of best data model practice.




The ArcGIS Railroads Data Model is a geodatabase data model template for organizations that operate in the railroad industry, or in industries that operate with railroad-based operations and assets. It is a moderately normalized data model, intended to digitally represent physical and non-physical aspects of railroad operations.


data model cover_2024.jpg

Esri thanks all those professionals and organizations who contributed their time and talents to the creation and improvement of the ArcGIS Railroads Data Model for the good of the community and of all Esri users in the Railroad industries.

Click here to DOWNLOAD the data model and all supporting materials.


Goal of the ArcGIS Railroads Data Model

The goal of the ArcGIS Railroads Data Model is to make it easier, quicker, and more cost-effective for Railroad organizations to implement the ArcGIS system. The Esri provided data model template accomplishes this by freely providing a data model that takes full advantage of the capabilities of the geodatabase. The data model is created and tested with ArcGIS products to ensure that it works. This significantly reduces the complexity, time, and cost to implement a spatially enabled Railroads data repository.

Keeping up with the advancements of the geodatabase is an ongoing activity. Esri software development staff continue to enhance and evolve the capabilities of the geodatabase. In addition to the data model representing a best practice on how to leverage the geodatabase, the data model also represents a repository of industry knowledge. Much of the structure and content of this data model is based on feedback from Esri’s users as well as lessons learned from the large number of implementations of ArcGIS in the railroads industries.

Because the ArcGIS Railroads Data Model is built specifically for the ArcGIS family of products, it can be implemented as-is, without modification to ArcGIS products.



At this 2024 edition of the data model, the primary target audience are freight railroad organizations across North America.

Passenger rail organizations in North America, as well as all kinds of rail organizations in the world outside of North America have many significant differences in their assets, operations, as well as requirements and constraints that are specific to different countries and regions. That isn’t to say that for those other organizations this data model would be useless. These other kinds of rail organizations may find valuable use from this data model as a starting point, or as a resource for enhancing their own database design.
It is simply important to recognize that for organizations other than North American railroads, this version of the data model has not comprehensively considered their needs. We welcome partners and other organizations would would like to collaborate with Esri for improving and extending this data model further, to broaded its scope for future versions.


Design Considerations

The ArcGIS Railroads Data Model has two sets of design considerations:

1. INDUSTRY COMPATIBILITY -- This data model needs to be fully compatible with other industry standard data models that already exist and are in productive use across the railroad industry. This is important for both interoperability purposes as well as making data exchange and translation easier. To that end, this Esri Railroad Data Model includes elements of, and is fully compatible with:

a. North American Rail Network (NARN) database model: Maintained and published by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.

b. Positive Train Control (PTC) database model: This is a set of technologies implemented to prevent some of the most major human-error incidents such as train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of trains thru a mainline switch left in the wrong position. PTC accomplishes these objectives in part with a database model for storing and updating data (including spatial data) in a standard and useful way. This database model is also governed by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.

c. Rail Industry Geographic Information System (RIGIS™) database model: Maintained and published by Railinc, which is a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Railinc is a resource for technology solutions used by railroads across North America. RIGIS™ is the data model used by these railroads when sharing data with other railroads or updating their data with Railinc/AAR to support a wide variety of collective uses.

2. GIS CAPABILITIES -- The ArcGIS Railroads Data Model needs to contain design elements that allow railroad data to fully exploit the capabilities of the ArcGIS system, to include:

a. Linear Referencing--specifically using ArcGIS Location Referencing tools.
b. Network datasets--for solving best paths, service areas, and other network analysis capabilities.
c. Trace Networks--for topological validation and all types of network tracing functions.
d. Network Diagrams--for schematic mapping, and supporting track chart creation and update.
e. Straight-Line Diagrams--for mapping point and span data of assets and phenomena.
f. Field Mobility--for asset inspection, incident reporting, maintenance of way operations, and more.
g. Real-Time mapping--of vehicles, personnel, and stationary sensors.
h. Parcel maintenance--as a base for managing real estate property, structures, and other assets.
i. Artificial Intelligence--for building and using deep learning models for automating data collection. 

Please feel free to let us know below if you have any questions or comments about this. Thanks!

New Contributor III

When I search for Esri Data Models everything redirects me to the ArcGIS Solutions Gallery. An FAQ page says for the most recent Data Models refer to that solution gallery. Are other data models as well documented as this one still around? Are there plans to make a railroad solution using this data model?

Esri Regular Contributor

@gargarcia Thanks for your interest! Most Esri data models started out as a stand-alone schema; the most popular and widely implemented ones evolved into ArcGIS Solutions. Once you find the solution of your interest, the package downloaded from the solution gallery will include documentation, model and other map artifacts. I will let @JimBarry comment on the future roadmap for railroads data model.    

Esri Regular Contributor

@gargarcia You're right. At this point, all we have is the data model. The next step is to ensure those who are building or updating their apps and solutions know about it, so that they can consider using it going forward. We think it will provide a great starting point, and even promotes consistency for these apps and solutions to work together.

This data model is not yet available on the Esri Solutions web site, but it will be soon as new solutions are deployed, and existing solutions updated to use this model.

cc -- @AyanPalit 


New Contributor

Hi, it looks that file geodatabase has only one feature class - TrackSegment. Could you reupload the database? I downloaded it from



Esri Regular Contributor

@LaimonasLiskauskas3 Thanks! My mistake. I'll get the correct FGBD and repackage asap.

(2024-02-29, edited to add: the sample dataset is undergoing an update. It will be republished on 4 March.)

New Contributor

@JimBarry do you have any news about the sample dataset?

Esri Regular Contributor

@LaimonasLiskauskas3 I apologize for the delay on this. We did have a version that was completely stubbed out with schema, but empty. We got requests to fill the layers with example data. That is finishing up now. Should be ready within a few days. Thanks for hanging in there with us in getting this ready in a more useful way.

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