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BIM and linear infrastructure the IFC Rail IFC Road and IFC Tunnel

BIM and linear infrastructure: the IFC Rail, IFC Road and IFC Tunnel

The Napoli Centrale station and the Naples-Rome railway section case study shows the incredible potential of BIM applied to railway infrastructure (IFC Rail, IFC Road and IFC Tunnel)

The integration between BIM, collaborative platforms to manage information in a single data sharing environment (CDE as outlined by UNI 11337 and British PAS 1192) and real-time rendering functions has introduced new digital tools to the AEC sector. In fact, digital technology is disrupting this industry and is finding large-scale application especially to interior design, building design & construction and even to large linear infrastructures (roads, railways, aqueducts and tunnels) while helping to optimize design decisions.

The advantages of virtual environments are as numerous as multifaceted, especially when it comes to large infrastructure projects. Hence, design problems can be detected already during the planning phase and the accessibility to reliable and updated information will be key for large infrastructure projects in terms of costs, faster decisions, time saving and, above all, risk.

The digitalization of the infrastructures offers the possibility of recreating simulations in a virtual environment and to anticipate how the product and process will perform through digital simulations and analysis (digital twin).

BIM-oriented processes enable the possibility to associate physical and virtual elements through site surveying, in order to connect the physical environment to the virtual model. Moreover, thanks to sensors and IoT technology it is possible to recreate multiple scenarios where to perform simulations.

It goes without saying that viewing, querying and interacting with open IFC federated models in a data sharing environment allows efficient planning and management of the infrastructure.


In addition, virtual reality allows to prevent errors and inconsistencies in the project whereas the designer can enter the model in person and thus avoid unexpected costs and time increase. The same train drivers can simulate train flows and verify the correct signs arrangement even before their actual installation.

BIM and linear infrastructures: the IFC Rail, IFC Road and IFC Tunnel_usBIMplatform

BIM model of Napoli Centrale Railway Station

IFC Rail project by buildingSMART International

buildingSMART International is currently developing a project to implement the open IFC standard applied to linear infrastructures.

Linear infrastructures are civil engineering works (e.g. railways, tunnels, roads, aqueducts) in which one dimension is clearly prevailing above others, specifically length over width. These works can be examined, estimated and designed by dividing the entire line / network into sections with homogeneous characteristics.

The 2018 buildingSMART International summit in Paris marked the official signing of the "IFC Rail" agreement by various industry representatives. Specialist domains (known as Rooms) have seen the "Railway Room” as the Standard Program’s new addition to successfully coordinate and develop this new complex project.

In March 2019, the IFC Rail project team has presented the progresses achieved at the BSI summit in Düsseldorf, that was also attended by ACCA software.

The results of the meeting clearly showed how the potential of BIM and IFC has also extended to the road sector (IFC Road) and to the design / construction of tunnels (IFC Tunnel).

An infrastructure digitalization case study: Garibaldi station - Napoli Centrale station

Minnucci Associati engineering studio has produced a complete IFC - BIM model of the central train station of Naples in Piazza Garibaldi with millions of objects containing detailed information, technical data sheets, structural / thermal data and much more, with the aim of optimizing network rails’ management, enhancement and maintenance.

The overall model, consisting of a federation of over 50 IFC models, has been uploaded on the usBIM.platform CDE, which allows you to view various models and objects associated to multiple documents, information and data.

BIM and linear infrastructures: the IFC Rail, IFC Road and IFC Tunnel_usBIMplatform

IFC model of Garibaldi station

The great advantage of using the usBIMplatform is that it enables the user to view such a complex model even with a normal browser (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, etc.).

In this specific case, it is possible to access the same model directly from the GIS Open BIM from the platform.

BIM and linear infrastructures: the IFC Rail, IFC Road and IFC Tunnel_usBIMplatform

IFC model of Garibaldi station in Naples Central train station

In addition to viewing the 3D BIM model, you can also navigate the model yourself and take advantage of all the potential offered by the real time rendering and immersive virtual reality with special viewers. Thus, navigating a complex model in IVR becomes incredibly easy and intuitive.

You can select any type of object and access the associated properties and documents (technical data sheets, photos, maintenance data, etc.) or even edit the project while automatically updating the model.

Railways, IFC Rail, virtual and immersive reality

The experience of the immersive virtual reality takes place in a simulated environment, where users can interact with virtual features or items by using special equipment. Virtual reality systems introduce the viewer into completely new virtual scenarios.

The virtual effects are commonly created by special viewers, such as VR headsets. The spectator is given a complete feeling of reality and is able to look around the artificial scenario.

The dynamic integration between BIM architectural design and immersive virtual reality allows architects and designers to have a much better understanding of their project and, perhaps more importantly, improve communication and client collaboration. VR technology has truly impacted the design experience allowing the various stakeholders to take part to the digital model creation and maintenance process.

It follows an engaging interaction with the client who can be directly be involved in the decision-making process during the design phase, in terms of simple decisions such as furnishing or finishes selection or more demanding functional-architectural choices.

BIM and linear infrastructures: the IFC Rail, IFC Road and IFC Tunnel_usBIMplatform

Garibaldi station in Napoli Centrale train station: navigating in IVR


Railway #TagBIM

A very interesting feature offered by the collaborative platform is the #TagBIM to "label" objects in a simple and intuitive way.

The #TagBIM are structured alphanumeric strings containing attributes (#Tag) that allow you to uniquely identify a price list item.

Basically, you can “tag” construction products (providing evidence to the most distinctive properties) present in any price book or objects present in the BIM model. Therefore, associating BIM model objects to price book items becomes extremely easy.

In short, the #TagBIM string system brings numerous advantages:

  • the open format can be written by any text editor and easily read or interpreted by both man and computer
  • it can be stored in any database (even non-SQL) and managed by any software
  • it is extremely flexible and scalable (default or rigid structures are not required)
  • it offers modern search and indexing functions with the use of #Tags (see Google, Facebook, etc.)
  • it can be easily integrated into any PRICE BOOK without radical changes to your way of working but at the same time it is a powerful tool for the "evolution"/development of BIM-oriented data.

BIM applied to linear infrastructures

In addition to the BIM model of the Garibaldi station, it has been produced a digital model of the Naples-Rome line.

The model reached a high level of detail for each railway object inserted and the signage details, thanks to the possibility of assigning technical datasheet and other type of information to the IFC model objects.

BIM and linear infrastructures: the IFC Rail, IFC Road and IFC Tunnel_usBIMplatform

Naples-Rome line: the IFC model


Also in this case you can explore the model in IVR (immersive virtual reality) or in Real Time Rendering view which can simulate a realistic environment and add value to the IFC models.

BIM and linear infrastructures: the IFC Rail, IFC Road and IFC Tunnel_usBIMplatform

Naples-Rome line: IVR navigating

The collaboration platform definitely opens new scenarios and opportunities to generate IFC models for infrastructures.

usBIM.platform: the BIM collaboration platform

The usBIM.platform meets international BIM standards and offers unprecented advantages:

  • cloud infrastructure: scalable and accessible by all users with any devicer
  • roles and responsibilities assignment: to allow the adoption of the Segregation of Duties (SoD) principle in terms of protection of information assets, information security, fraud prevention and errors
  • workflows: to apply processes and revision/validation procedures to project documents enabling availability and management of updated documentation
  • logging and auditing: to keep record of the actions carried out and to guarantee the evidence of changes and revisions historical succession applied to the shared data
  • accessibility through login procedures and access to different Directories within the CDE as regulated by the access level assigned to each stakeholder (with reading or editing, managing and download functions)
  • IFC viewer: to read files shared in the standard IFC format
  • Communication and notification management: both internally and externally (via email) of the CDE
  • guarantee of confidentiality and information security: managed through the https protocol
  • automatic data backup system: to guarantee data restoration in case of partial or total loss due to unpredictable events (DisasterRecovery).

usBIM.platform and IFC Rail: the video