With around 83,000 freight wagons, they have lots of very different characteristics. But those who are in the know can recognise the most important features at a glance, since the inscriptions on each freight wagon act as an important "business card".
Every freight wagon bears inscriptions. What at first glance looks like a random compilation of numbers and letters is in fact a standard transport industry way of providing information about the freight wagon's most important characteristics. As a rule, the inscriptions are applied to the left half of the wagon's side walls. Inscriptions on wagons without walls are found on the solebar.
The category letter and index letter make up the wagon letter marking, which provides information about all the essential characteristics of a freight wagon.
The following documents (in German) contain further information on the use of freight wagons:
- International freight wagon classification codes ("category" and "index" letters) (pdf)
- National classification codes for freight wagons in Germany ("category" and "index" letters) (pdf)
- Other important freight wagon inscriptions and symbols (pdf)
- Countries with uniform freight wagon markings (pdf)
- Category codes and their meanings (pdf)