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Railway Transportation of Hazardous Goods

Hazardous goods are a special category of substances and products that may cause damage to property, they are potentially hazardous to people, environment, and animals.

Rail transportation of hazardous goods is the most reliable way to transport such substances and materials.

Regulations for transportation of hazardous goods by rail

Transportation of hazardous goods by rail is strictly regulated at the legislative level.

A set of the relevant special regulations and safety instructions has been developed.

Hazardous goods approved for the transportation by rail in the Russian Federation are divided into 9 categories (GOST 19433-88) based on their physical and chemical properties.

International transportation is performed in accordance with the International Railway Cargo Transportation Agreement.

Classification of Hazardous Substances and Goods:

  • Hazard class 1: Explosive and flammable substances and products capable of exploding and causing a fire if transportation conditions are not observed;
  • Hazard class 2: Gaseous substances that were dissolved under pressure or were compressed or liquefied according to the relevant cooling technology;
  • Hazard class 3: Liquids and mixtures containing flammable vapors (ignition temperature in a closed crucible below 61°C);
  • Hazard class 4: Goods and cargoes that are prone to fire as a result of friction, contact with an open fire source, moisture absorption, heating or other processes;
  • Hazard class 5: Includes peroxides (organic origin) and liquids prone to oxidation and that actively release oxygen; can spontaneously ignite and maintain combustion process;
  • Hazard class 6: Poisonous and infectious substances that pose danger to humans;
  • Hazard class 7: Cargoes with high radionuclide concentration;
  • Hazard class 8: Caustic substances affecting mucous tissues and human skin; that cause corrosion of metals, prone to explosion upon contact with other chemical elements;
  • Hazard class 9: Goods requiring special conditions of transportation, storage and that do not belong to the above classes.

When planning cargo transportation keep in mind that handling operations must be performed exclusively in specially designated and equipped areas.

Transit time for especially dangerous goods at train stations must not exceed 2 hours.

Loading and unloading of flammable substances may not be performed on electrified tracks.

Handling of hazardous goods must be performed when locomotive speed is less than 15 km/h.

Hazardous goods placed inside a railroad train must be separated by an empty car or a freight wagon containing non-hazardous goods.

It is forbidden to form railroad trains that simultaneously contain explosive and flammable substances.

When stopping en route train cars containing highly hazardous goods must arrive at specially designated stations.

At such stations railroad switches must be securely fixed and brake shoes must be installed.

Strict observance of these and other requirements of the relevant GOSTs is a guarantee of safety of others.

Requirements to Railroad Transport

Transportation of hazardous goods in railroad cars by Russian Railways must be performed in accordance with the Rules for the Hazardous Goods Regulations, Annex 2 (SMGS) and in compliance with the relevant requirements of Gosgortekhnadzor to all the elements of rolling stock (train cars, ISO tanks, and tank cars).

Transportation of hazardous goods by rail must be performed in totally sealed closed-type train cars, special-purpose containers or other types of containers.

Chemical neutrality and container cleanliness must be ensured;

The procedure for loading and unloading train cars containing hazardous materials (for example, filling tanks with oil products, bitumen or filling them with compressed gas) is regulated by the relevant safety rules and must be carried out by trained personnel using special technical devices and means;

It is obligatory to mark transported cargo as hazardous goods; such marking contains the name of substance or product, its classification code, indication of its hazard level, the UN number plate, and a special sign.

Documents Used for Cargo Transportation

Setting up transportation of hazardous goods by rail requires a set of forwarding documents.

Document preparation and processing includes:

  • Securing licenses for the transportation of hazardous goods by rail transport;
  • Registration of permission from the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation for transportation;
  • In case of shipping highly hazardous goods additional transportation permit must be secured from the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
  • Railway bill of lading with a special stamp
Transportation of Hazardous Goods


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