Everything you need to know about the RID regulation

September 14, 2023

What is the Regulation 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 Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID) is an international agreement that sets 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 parts of the world to facilitate the transport of dangerous goods by rail.

In other words, RID defines at international level the list of dangerous goods that may be transported by rail, and the conditions of such transport.

In addition, RID is closely linked with other international regulations, such as the European Regulations concerning the Carriage 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 lays down international rules for : 

  • Dangerous goods classification: RID classifies dangerous goods into different categories according to their nature and properties, so that you 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, notably in the consignment note.
  • Training: RID requires those involved in the transport of dangerous goods by rail to be trained and qualified to handle them correctly.
  • Stakeholder responsibility: RID establishes clear responsibilities for the various parties involved in the transport of dangerous goods by rail, including consignors, carriers and regulatory authorities.

A little history: how and why RID was created

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

RID was created for a number of reasons: 

  • Public safety: dangerous goods can present significant risks to people, the environment and property in the event of accidents or malfunctions during transport. RID aims to minimize these risks by setting strict standards for the handling, packaging, labeling and transport of these goods.
  • Environmental protection: transporting dangerous goods can have serious repercussions on the environment in the event of leaks or spills. It is therefore important to prevent such incidents and to react effectively in an emergency to minimize damage.
  • International harmonization: harmonizing rules and standards at international level facilitates cross-border trade by ensuring regulatory consistency between countries, thereby simplifying procedures and reducing barriers to trade.
  • Worker safety: compulsory training ensures 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 transporting these goods.
  • Clear responsibility: with a clearly established level of responsibility for shippers, carriers and regulators, appropriate measures are taken throughout the supply chain to ensure safety.

RID in the consignment note

When transporting dangerous goods, specific RID-related information must be included on the consignment note. If this information is missing from the consignment note, the train's departure will be delayed. 

The description of RID goods must follow a strict format. It includes the information listed below, and specifies whether the material is environmentally hazardous. The information is listed in a very precise order.

This information includes : 

  • The RID version: a new version is published every year, with possible changes to the previous version. So it's important to know which version it is.
  • The UN number: is assigned to each hazardous substance or article that is subject to specific international transport regulations. It consists of four digits and identifies the substance or article, as well as the associated level of danger. 
  • The RID class: Dangerous goods are divided into different classes, each associated with specific types of hazard. RID classes are numbered from 1 to 9, and there are also subdivisions within certain classes.
  • RID packaging: There are 3 packaging groups, ranging from 1 (I) to 3 (III). The higher the number of the packaging group, the less hazardous the material.
  • The hazard identification number: this is a series of numbers, each giving an indication of the type of hazard represented by the material being transported. 

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

Within the Everysens platform, RID information is of course recorded when a consignment note is created for a shipment. Whether the wagons are full or empty.

Where can I consult the RID?

The RID reference text is available online at these addresses, in English, French and German.

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