Iris complements the internationally-recognised ISO 9001 quality standard while introducing rail-specific requirements. It is modelled on similar quality standards already used in the aerospace and automotive industries, and was developed by Unife members.

The MoU is expected to focus on enhancing knowledge-sharing and experience between Unife members and DB in order to better meet the railway's needs, and is described by Mr Mark Manley, chairman of the Iris Steering Committee as an "excellent step towards a rail industry standard which fully meets our customers' expectations." He added that Iris looks forward to signing additional Iris MoUs in the near future.

Dr Lutz Bertling, CEO of Bombardier Transportation and chairman of Unife, agreed that the MoU is a major endorsement for Iris, while Dr Volker Kefer, DB board member for infrastructure, services and technology, says DB expects "significant long-term improvements as a result of both parties' expertise and cooperation."

"The cooperation with Unife as our trusted partner will strengthen the rail sector and increase quality," Volker says. "The focus on product-related fulfilment of customer requirements within Iris is an opportunity for business in a global economy."

There are almost 1200 Iris-certified companies now operational worldwide and the standard is increasingly becoming an international seal of quality recognised by manufacturers and rail operators.