How to move goods by rail

Rail transport of dangerous goods


Europe-wide rules govern the transportation of dangerous goods by rail. These are known by the letters 'RID'. You'll also see references to the Carriage Regulations - these translate the RID rules into UK legislation.

Note that the Carriage Regulations also cover the transport of goods by road - see moving goods by road. You must comply with three sets of duties:

Rail freight classification

Any dangerous goods you transport must be marked with their name, description and UN number (the UN number states which of the following nine categories your dangerous goods come under).

UN Class Dangerous Goods Classification
1 Explosives
  • Explosive substances and articles
2 Gases
  • Flammable gas
  • Non-flammable non-toxic gas
  • Toxic gas
3 Flammable liquids
  • Flammable liquids
4 Flammable solids
  • Class 4.1 Flammable solids, self reactive substances and solid desensitised explosives
  • Class 4.2 Substances liable to spontaneous combustion
  • Class 4.3 Substance which emits flammable gas in contact with water
5 Oxidising substances
  • Class 5.1 Oxidising substance
  • Class 5.2 Organic peroxide
6 Toxic substances and infectious substances
  • Class 6.1 Toxic substances
  • Class 6.2 Infectious substances
7 Radioactive material
  • Radioactive material
8 Corrosive substances
  • Corrosive substances
9 Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles
  • Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles

Rail freight packaging

All those involved in the handling and the filling of packages of dangerous goods should ensure that the correct procedures are followed. You should also make sure that security requirements have been met.

Make sure dangerous goods are packaged in accordance with the regulations. Also ensure that goods are clearly marked with their UN number and hazard diamond labels appropriate to that class of goods have been attached. Note that classes 1 and 2 also require the proper shipping name. You should also check that rail wagons are clearly marked (placarded) to indicate which dangerous goods are being carried.

If you transport dangerous goods through the Channel Tunnel, these will have to comply with the stricter rules enforced by the tunnel operator.

Rail freight security

Freight safety regulations require any business involved in the transport of dangerous goods to:

  • only offer the goods to appropriate carriers
  • make sites that temporarily store dangerous goods secure
  • have a security awareness training programme in place
  • have a security plan in place, if involved with high consequence dangerous goods