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IFC, Open BIM and railway infrastructures: the digitalisation of the Napoli Centrale station

IFC, Open BIM and railway infrastructures: the digitalisation of the Napoli Centrale station

Here is a practical example of IFC and Open BIM application to the rail infrastructure sector: how to manage 50 federated IFC models

IFC and Open BIM are certainly effective ways to manage the BIM process through data management and communication.

In this article you will see a video showing how to manage 50 IFC federated models of Naples Central station and a 32-kilometer Naples-Rome railway section.

The video shows how it is possible to modify the entire IFC model and what are the benefits of real-time rendering and immersive virtual reality, thanks to special VR viewers.

Note that the models uploaded on the usBIM.platform Cloud can be viewed on a normal browser.

Here is the result!



Open BIM

Open BIM is a universal approach to collaborative building design, construction and maintenance operation based on open standards and workflows. It supports a transparent and open workflow that allows all project stakeholders to participate in a coordinated way, regardless of the software used.

This of course leads to the need for a standard format, making interoperability and data exchange easier and reliable without introducing data security risks. With such an approach, it becomes easier for multi-discipline teams to work together and freely exchange design and construction data.

The development of the IFC standard extends the Open BIM® approach to new disciplines, for an ever-greater collaboration on projects.

The IFC is born with the mission to guarantee data exchange, whatever the software used. Its purpose is to describe the data of the building and construction industry, not controlled by a single supplier or group of suppliers.

OpenBIM is an initiative started by buildingSMART.


The IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) is a specific data format that allows an information model to be exchanged between various design and validation roles without any risk for data loss or corruption.

The IFC was designed to process the entire building information throughout its life cycle, from feasibility analysis through to implementation and maintenance, through to various design and planning phases.

The main advantage offered by the IFC format is the possibility of enabling collaboration between the various actors involved in the construction process, allowing them to exchange information through a standard format.

This means higher quality, reduced risk of errors, lower costs and time savings, with consistent data and information during the design, construction and maintenance phases.

Elements are designed to describe the components of a building, such as installation systems, spaces, areas, furniture, structural elements (columns, beams, walls, floors, etc.), including the specific properties of each object.

Thanks to this subdivision to each object it is possible to associate certain quantities such as:

  • form
  • cost
  • maintenance request
  • position
  • energy performance
  • connections with other objects
  • safety
  • physical and mechanical characteristics

All these data are typically coded in one of the three available formats:

  • .ifc: default file format based on the ISO-STEP standard
  • .ifcxml: coding based on the XML language
  • .ifczip: compressed archive of one of these formats, which may also contain additional material, such as PDFs or images.

buildingSMART International is supporting a large project regarding how to implement the open IFC standard applied to linear infrastructures (IFC rail, road, tunnel).