All you need to know about RID regulations

March 8, 2024

What are the Regulations concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by rail? What does it involve? Why is it so important?

What is RID?

The Regulations concerning the international transport of dangerous goods by rail (RID) is an international agreement that establishes standards and rules for the safe and regulated transport of dangerous goods by rail. RID is governed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and is widely used in Europe and other regions of the world to facilitate the transport of dangerous goods by rail.

In other words, RID defines at the international level the list of dangerous goods that are authorized to be transported by rail, and the modalities of such transport.

Furthermore, RID is in close relationship with other international regulations, such as the European Regulation on the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG), to ensure consistency in the transport of dangerous goods across different modes of transport.

What does RID govern?

Among other things, RID already sets out international rules in terms of:

  • The classification of dangerous goods: RID classifies dangerous goods into different categories according to their nature and properties, making it possible to know how to handle, pack and transport them safely.
  • Packaging and marking: RID defines strict standards for the packaging of dangerous goods, including packaging materials, compliance tests, and marking requirements.
  • Documentation: Shippers of dangerous goods must provide appropriate documentation, including in the consignment note.
  • Training: RID requires that people involved in transporting dangerous goods by rail be trained and qualified to handle them properly.
  • Stakeholder responsibility: RID establishes clear responsibilities for the various parties involved in the transport of dangerous goods by rail, including shippers, carriers and regulatory authorities.

A bit of history: origin and reason for creating RID

RID was created by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and was first developed in 1967. For several decades, RID has been updated regularly in order to adapt to new technologies and safety requirements. A new edition of RID is published every year.

There are many reasons why RID was created:

  • Public safety: dangerous goods can present significant risks to people, the environment and property in the event of accidents or failures during transport. RID aims to minimize these risks by establishing strict standards for the treatment, packaging, labelling, and transport of these goods.
  • Environmental protection: the transport of dangerous goods can have serious impacts on the environment in the event of leaks or spills. It is therefore important to prevent these incidents and to respond effectively in case of emergency to minimize damage.
  • International harmonization: Harmonizing rules and standards at the international level facilitates cross-border trade by ensuring regulatory coherence between countries, which simplifies procedures and reduces barriers to trade.
  • Worker safety: through mandatory training, it is ensured that workers are qualified to handle these goods safely, reducing the risk of accidents.
  • Risk Management: With detailed information on the classification of dangerous goods, appropriate packaging methods, and emergency procedures, it is easier for the various stakeholders to manage the risks associated with the transport of these goods.
  • Clear accountability: with a clearly established level of responsibility for shippers, carriers, and regulatory authorities, appropriate actions are taken throughout the supply chain to ensure safety.

RID in the consignment note

In the case of the transport of dangerous goods, specific information related to RID must be present on the consignment note. In the absence of this information on the consignment note, the departure of the train would be withheld.

The wording of RID goods must comply with a strict format. It includes the various information mentioned below, and specifies whether the material is dangerous for the environment. The information is collated in a very precise order.

This information includes, among others:

  • The RID version: a new version is published every year with possible changes compared to the previous version. So it is important to know which one it is.
  • The UN number: is assigned to each dangerous substance or article that is subject to specific regulations in international transport. It is composed of four numbers and identifies the substance or article, as well as the associated hazard level.
  • RID class: Dangerous goods are divided into different classes, each of which is associated with specific types of hazards. RID classes are numbered from 1 to 9. There are also subdivisions within some classes.
  • RID packaging: There are 3 packaging groups, ranging from 1 (I) to 3 (III). The higher the packing group number, the less dangerous the substance is considered to be.
  • The hazard identification number: this is a succession of numbers, each giving an indication of the type of danger represented by the substance carried.

It should be noted that a wagon does not have to be full to be considered subject to RID. An empty wagon that has previously transported a dangerous substance and that has not been cleaned and/or pressurized, will still be considered dangerous, and therefore subject to RID. The only difference will be in the description/description, which will specify that the car is empty.

Within the Everysens platform, RID information is of course recorded when creating a consignment note linked to a transport. Whether the cars are full or empty.

Where can I consult the RID?

The RID reference text is available online at these addresses, in frenchmen, English and german.

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