What is Railway BL and SMGS in Rail Freight Transportation

Understanding Railway Waybill and SMGS in Rail Freight Transportation

In the intricate world of rail freight transportation, particularly on routes extending from China to Europe, Central Asia, or Mongolia, understanding the nuances of a railway waybill, including the specific type known as SMGS, is imperative.



Railway bill SMGS with super international Shipping

Defining the Railway Waybill

A railway waybill, often referred to as a rail document, is a detailed guide for the transport process. It provides comprehensive information about the shipped goods, the shipper, the receiver, and the journey itinerary. 

This document plays a pivotal role in the systematic flow of rail freight, ensuring that all parties involved in the transportation process have the necessary details.

The Role and History of SMGS in Rail Freight

The Agreement on International Goods Transport by Rail (SMGS) is a specific type of railway waybill used predominantly in Europe and Asia. This agreement, which was first applicable starting 1 November 1951 and has seen amendments and supplements as of 01.07.2018, aims to standardize procedures and regulations for international railway freight. This standardization ensures a smooth and efficient process for transporting goods across borders.

The SMGS consignment note, often referred to as Chinese SMGS due to its extensive use in rail freight from China, acts as a railway bill of lading in SMGS countries, making it a key component in the transportation process

The Difference Between a Railway Bill and SMGS

While a railway bill is a universal document used in rail transportation globally, SMGS is a variant of the railway waybill, employed primarily in Europe and Asia. The SMGS consignment note serves as a railway bill of lading in SMGS countries, highlighting its crucial role in rail freight from China.


Detailed Insights into the SMGS Consignment Note

The SMGS consignment note, a variant of the railway waybill, is uniquely designed to cater to the requirements of rail freight across multiple geographical regions. It’s particularly crucial for freight transport between China, Europe, Mongolia, and Central Asia.

This document contains a wealth of information that is vital for the successful transport of goods, including:

  • Departure and Arrival Station Names and 5-Digit Code Numbers: The English names and corresponding 5-digit code numbers of the departure and arrival stations are crucial for accurately identifying the shipment’s origin and destination.
  • Transit Border Information: The note specifies the transit borders through which the freight train will travel. Alashankou, for instance, is often the main transit border for rail freight trains traveling from China to Europe and Kazakhstan.
  • Cargo Details: The SMGS consignment note includes details about the cargo being transported. This covers the cargo name along with the corresponding HS code, the cargo weight, and the number of packages along with their packaging details.
  • Container Information: The document also includes details about the container, such as the container number, seal number, and container size.
  • Stamp and Date: The stamp, usually located on the bottom left corner of the document, is a crucial component. It validates the authenticity and official status of the document and typically includes the departure date of the train.

Understanding the role and components of a railway waybill, including the specific type known as Chinese SMGS, is essential in the realm of rail freight transportation. These critical rail documents not only provide a legal framework for transporting goods but also ensure the efficient and accurate delivery of freight along key routes extending from China to Europe, Central Asia, and Mongolia.


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