International Organisation of Tariff and Transport Experts


News from the world of transportation

COTIF 1999 reaches Sweden

(Vienna/Berne in June 2015)


On 12 June 2015 in Berne, His Excellency the Ambassador of Sweden to Switzerland, Mr Magnus Hartog-Holm, presented the instrument of ratification of the 1999 Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) to the Secretary General of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF), Mr François Davenne. Sweden, a founding member of OTIF following its signing of COTIF 1980 on 9 May 1980, has applied the International Convention for the carriage of goods by rail (CIM, which later became Appendix B to COTIF) since 1907.


Sweden’s ratification means it will apply COTIF 1999 and its seven appendices.

Accession of Azerbaijan to COTIF

(Berne/Vienna in May 2015)


On 6 May 2015, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr E. Mammadyarov, signed the instrument of accession to COTIF. Azerbaijan’s accession to COTIF 1999, including the application of Appendices A, B and C, represents a major step forward for trade between Europe and Asia. It will provide a uniform framework for the international carriage of passengers and freight by rail between Asia and Europe and in particular for the carriage of dangerous goods. Azerbaijan is also a member of the Organization for Cooperation of Railways (OSJD) and by acceding to COTIF, it will be providing a legal framework for the entire Baku – Tbilisi – Kars line.

Ratification of COTIF 1999 by Italy

(Vienna/Berne, February 2015)


A circular dated 5 February 2015 from the Secretary General of OTIF announced that for the Italian Republic, COTIF, as amended by the Protocol of 3 June 1999 modifying the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) of 9 May 1980 (COTIF 1999) applies from the day on which the instrument of ratification was deposited, i.e. 5 February 2015. The instrument was deposited with no reservations according to Art. 1 § 6 CIV and CIM or Art. 42 COTIF.

Accession of Pakistan to OTIF

(Bern / Vienna in Sept. 2013)


On 1 September 2013, the accession of Pakistan to OTIF as its 49th Member State became effective. This will open up the OTIF and the application of its international railway law in many respects to a new dimension:


After Turkey and Iran Pakistan is the third Member State of OTIF, who is also a member of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), an organization based in Tehran, which of the economic development of its associated 10 Islamic countries in Asia and Eurasia considerable importance. The insinuation of international railway freight from Pakistan through Iran to Turkey, especially in the form of the container train Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul, under the now these three Member States of ECO common regime of ER / CIM was the main motivation for joining Pakistan to OTIF.


Pakistan is neither an EU member nor the OSJD, the UN / ECE and the OSCE, and thus not so much affected by the multi-track orientation and the conflicts of interest in using rail policy and legislation in railway law concerned international organizations and their members, like many other Member States of the OTIF.


Pakistan is also the first Member State of OTIF, whose network the gauge having 1.676 mm, which prevails, for example, the rail network in India, which - does seem to be possible under favorable political conditions, the expansion of the OTIF scope to India and other countries in the region.


To fully exploit the benefits of accession, it would be welcomed, if it also contained the accession of the 100% state-owned Pakistan Railways came in the wake of Pakistan's accession to OTIF for CIT.

Accession of Georgia to COTIF

(Berne, 02/11/2011)


24 October 2011, the Government of Georgia has submitted an application for accession to COTIF. In his capacity as Depositary of the Convention, the Secretary General of OTIF informed the governments of the OTIF Member States in a circular letter dated 2 November 2011 on this application for membership, including the reservations and declarations contained therein.

The applciation shall be accepted as legally binding three months after such notification, i.e. until 2 February 2012, if not five OTIF Member States have raised objections. On the first day of the third month following notification by the Secretary-General to the Member States that the application for membership is accepted legally binding, the accession takes effect (i.e. expected to be 1 May 2012).

Georgia subordinated to the COTIF regime (CIV and CIM) journeys of railway lines from Gabardani-Kartsaki to the border with Turkey (244 km), which forms part of the new Baku-Tbilisi-Kars link. In the area of freight Georgia assumed in addition the short rail routes between the ports of Poti and Batumi and each station in order to continue to be able to apply the CIM railway law regime on Multimodal transportations by Rail-Sea.

Armenia, a new member of OTIF

(Berne / Vienna 01/07/2011)


By July 1st this year, Armenia joined the Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) and  from that date should apply the Convention for the International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) in the version of the Vilnius Protocol. It is therefore us a priority to report concerns about this country as a new member of OTIF.


Located in the Near East in the Caucasus mountains, Armenia surrounded by the states of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. The capital is Yerevan and in an area of 29.800 km² 3.2 million people live. The country gained its independence on 21/09/1991 and since then belongs to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). It is mainly spoken in Armenian, but Russian is the second most language  used. In total there are 12 languages in use in the country and the population is about 97 percent of Armenians together, the rest are Kurds and Russians.


Unfortunately, the country is not free of conflicts with its neighbors and so is especially the confrontation with Azerbaijan to mention where there are its claims to the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh for years. Even with Turkey, there is no untroubled neighborhood since the genocide by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians here is still in memory. Even diplomatic relations with Turkey are not currently given what also interferes with rail transport. So the borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed and the international traffic runs exclusively via Georgia.


In this context, it seems of interest that Armenia is no party in the "Agreement on the international rail freight (SMGS)", and the only existing cross-border connection existed in international rail tariff Austria - UDSSR (and its successor states) SAT, throughout by its application to the rail could be driven (Georgia). Armenia's accession to OTIF and the consequent application of the COTIF can be described as a major advance, but Turkey would open its border, would be given that an international link with the rest of COTIF users.


The Armenian railway network covers 845 km broad gauge tracks (1,520 mm) and is continuously electrified with 3,000 V DC, with their one-track predominates. In operation are currently 736 km and approximately 110 kilometers by landslides and closures of borders with neighboring countries unused Turkey and Azerbaijan. The most important railway company of Armenia is the "Harawkowkasjan Jerkatughi" (South Caucasian Railway), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Russian Railways (RZD). The latter has won a tender obtained the operating license for an initial 30 years or over the equipment, the vehicle fleet and 4,300 employees.


As part of the agreement taken should 400 Mill. US dollars are needed to improve the infrastructure, which should be used largely for track extensions to the Georgian Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti. According to reports, one is dissatisfied with the management of the railways in Armenia, since only 30 percent of investment commitments to date have been met. Before dissolution of the USSR 38 million tons of goods and 4.6 million passengers, a peak from which one is far away today. Nevertheless, upon fulfillment of the investment volume should rise again to 30 million tons of freight. On 21/8/2012 the South Caucasian Railway has applied for membership in the International Rail Transport Committee (CIT), which the accession will be completed 1/10/2011. This represents a further step towards the integration of Armenia is given in the Euro-Asian railway network.


In 2009, the establishment of a railway line between the two countries was agreed with the government of Iran that would result in a further connection to the network of COTIF users. However, the construction of the 470-km route will take some time to complete because 410 km on Armenian territory, would lead through mountainous terrain.


In connection accession of Georgia to the OTIF and the related application of COTIF is highly desirable to ensure that the participation of Armenia would be ensured in international transport links on this path. The national preparations for this accession are well advanced reportedly. First, the scope of COTIF but to Annexes A (CIV), B (CIM) and C (RID), as well as on the Georgian stretch connecting Kars (Turkey) is - Tbilisi (Georgia) - Baku (Azerbaijan) and the short connections from the Black Sea ports of Poti and Batumi be limited to the nearest train stations.