Dangerous goods

Refers to substances and articles in respect of which carriage is prohibited by the RID or authorised only under the conditions prescribed therein.

What is “dangerous goods”?

The transport of dangerous goods (TDG) is subject to specific regulatory measures stipulated by the competent international, European or national authorities, as well as certain measures taken by companies themselves. TDG safety on the railways is based on general railway operations safety. This area is managed by UIC in close consultation with its members and in cooperation with other stakeholders.

“Dangerous goods refers to substances and articles in respect of which carriage is prohibited by the RID or authorised only under the conditions prescribed therein” (RID 2019, Chapter 1.2 - Definitions).

Specific regulations are in place in relation to the transport and storage of dangerous goods, as well as employee, consumer and environmental protection, in order to prevent accidents during carriage of such goods. The United Nations has led efforts to standardise the transport modes, communication tools and criteria for classification of hazards used when transporting dangerous goods with a view to achieving consistency between the various regulations to the greatest extent possible.

“Transport of dangerous goods is regulated in order to prevent, as far as possible, accidents to persons or property and damage to the environment, the means of transport employed or to other goods. At the same time, regulations should be framed so as not to impede the movement of such goods, other than those too dangerous to be accepted for transport. With this exception, the aim of the regulations is to make transport feasible by eliminating risks or reducing them to a minimum. It is therefore a matter of safety as well as of facilitating transport.” (UN Model Regulations, UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods - Model Regulations, Twentieth revised edition, 2017, Principles underlying the regulation of the transport of dangerous goods, 4.)

Table 3.2.A of the RID provides a comprehensive delineation of substances authorised for transport and the conditions in which transport must be performed (UN code, technical name of the substance, packaging, labelling, carriage document, information to be provided, etc.), as well as stakeholders’ safety obligations. Table 3.2.B is provided for information purposes and indicates, with varying levels of detail, the NHM codes corresponding to goods identified by UN code.

OTIF - Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (RID)
RID Committee of experts – Working groups.

ERA - European Union Agency for Railways / Workshops on Risk Management in the
context of rail, road and inland waterways Transport of Dangerous Goods.

GCU - General Contract of Use for Wagons.

UNECE - RID/ADR/ADN Joint Meeting - United Nations Economic Commission for

CIT – International rail Transport Committee.

How to use the UIC Extranet workspace “Dangerous goods”

UIC extranet

Carrier’s obligations prior to accepting goods for carriage

These obligations are defined in the RID, paragraph The provisions of this paragraph are considered to be met if UIC IRS 40471-3 (Leaflet 471-3), point 5 (Inspections of dangerous goods consignments) is applied.

Infrastructure manager’s obligations

Acceptance of the goods and their carriage are the responsibility of the railway undertaking. The infrastructure manager, however, has a role to play, especially in the event of an incident or accident, because he is responsible for security on the network.

Chapter 1.4 of the RID handles the obligations of the various parties in the transport chain. The infrastructure manager’s (IM) obligations are defined in point These obligations essentially concern emergency planning and the provision of information. These obligations are organised consistently with the arrangements provided for by the rules and regulations pertaining to operational safety in general.

European and international rules governing the carriage of dangerous goods

These are defined by the Regulations concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID). This document is Appendix C to the COTIF. In application of European Directive 2008/68/EC, compliance with this document is mandatory for all carriage within the European Union.

Developments in European and international rules

Rules and regulations are updated on an ongoing basis in order to take account of experience and of new types of goods arriving on the market. The harmonisation of rules between various modes of transport is increasingly important, with international trade and multimodal and intermodal transport all growing.

Work to amend the various regulatory texts takes place within intergovernmental, European and international bodies. UIC participates in this work with the status of a non-governmental organisation. Nevertheless, UIC may submit proposals and make observations concerning the proposed amendments through the UIC RID Group of Experts by:

  • Preparing in advance the proposals it puts forward and the positions it adopts
  • Discussing the conditions of application of the regulations in force
  • Sharing experience and useful information
  • Managing UIC IRS 40471-3 (UIC Leaflet 471-3) and IRS 20201 (UIC Leaflet 201)

Other organisations have the same status: UIP, CER, CEFIC, AEGPL, FIATA, etc.

The proposed amendments and documents used for this work are public, as are the minutes of meetings and the decisions taken. They may be consulted on the websites listed above.

UIC involvement in developing rules

UIC is officially represented in the bodies concerned. The proposals it puts forward and the positions it adopts are prepared in advance by the UIC RID Group of Experts. These experts discuss the conditions of application of the regulations in force. They share experience and useful information. When the issues concerned are European Union prerogatives, the UIC positions are established jointly with the Community of European Railways (CER).

The UIC RID Group of Experts also addresses specific issues previously dealt with by the Dangerous goods coordination group (GSMD), such as security, telematics application, risks assessment, management of UIC IRS 20201 (Leaflet 201) and attends on behalf of UIC, thematic working groups set up within the railway sector as well as by European or international intergovernmental bodies. UIC also participates in coordination activities organized jointly since 2018 by DG MOVE (European Commission) and OTIF (Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail).


Joost Overdijkink: overdijkink@uic.org

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