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Rail Car Identification Chart*

Pressure Tank Car Compressed Liquefied Gases (Closed Dome Only on top). Side and rear view of a pressure tank car for compressed liquefied gases and image of the dome of the rail car. Guide 117.
  • For flammable, non-flammable, toxic and/or liquefied compressed gases
  • Protective housing
  • No bottom fittings
  • Pressures usually above 40 psi
Low Pressure Tank Car Liquids (Closed Dome and Outlets on top). Side and rear view of a low pressure tank car for liquids and image of the dome of the rail car. Guide 131.
  • For variety of hazardous and non-hazardous materials
  • Fittings and valves normally visible at the top of the tank
  • Some may have bottom outlet valve
  • Pressures usually below 25 psi
Low Pressure Tank Car (TC117, DOT117). Side and rear view of a low pressure tank car for flammable liquids. Guide 128.
  • For flammable liquids (e.g., Petroleum crude oil, ethanol)
  • Protective housing separate from manway
  • Bottom outlet valve
  • Pressures usually below 25 psi
Box Car Mixed Cargo. Side view of a box car for mixed cargo. Guide 111.
  • For general freight that carry bulk or non-bulk packages
  • May transport hazardous materials in small packages or "tote bins"
  • Single or double sliding door
Hopper Car Dry Bulk. Side view of a hopper car for dry bulk. Guide 140.
  • For bulk commodities and bulk cargo (e.g., coal, ore, cement and solid granular materials)
  • Bulk lading discharged by gravity through the hopper bottom doors when doors opened
Side and rear view of a rail car. Information on the left of the rail car (top to bottom): reporting marks and car number, load limit (pounds or kg) and empty weight. Information on the right of the rail car (top to bottom): TC permit number, commodity name, car specification, tank test & safety valve test and placard holder. Information on it (top to bottom): reporting marks & car number, capacity in gallons or liters, placard holder.

CAUTION: Emergency response personnel must be aware that rail tank cars vary widely in construction, fittings and purpose. Tank cars could transport products that may be solids, liquids or gases. The products may be under pressure. It is essential that products be identified by consulting shipping documents or train consist or contacting dispatch centers before emergency response is initiated.

The information stenciled on the sides or ends of tank cars, as illustrated above, may be used to identify the product utilizing:

  1. the commodity name shown; or
  2. the other information shown, especially reporting marks and car number which, when supplied to a dispatch center, will facilitate the identification of the product.

* The recommended guides should be considered as last resort if the material cannot be identified by any other means.

Date Modified:
2016-08-25