Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics manufactures railway track signals (RTS), which are an audible safety signalling device used by rail organisations in Australia and New Zealand.

Railway Track Signal (RTS) MSDS 24-15-1 RTS Dec 2015 PDF
Railway Track Signal (RTS) MSDS 50-12-1 RTS Dec 2015 PDF
Emergency Procedure Guide (RTS) 1.4S UN0193

For more information, please contact our factory.

Railway track signals are classified as an explosive of Class 1.4S, but only if they are supplied, stored and handled in original packaging from Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics.

Original packaging means the packaging designed to contain the railway track signals in a manner that, if the packaging is involved in an incident such as fire engulfment, the signals will behave as if they were an explosive of Class 1.4S. The supplier or manufacturer of the signals will have tested the design of the packaging to achieve the classification of 1.4S. The packaging will also be dangerous goods packaging approved by a competent authority.

Railway track signals are sometimes referred to as ‘railway detonators’. This is a misnomer because railway track signals are not detonators and cannot be used as detonators.


Railway track signals must be securely stored (locked) in an internal magazine that is constructed and marked in accordance with AS 2187.1 and kept in a secured building.

Users must also comply with any other safety requirement of the Explosives Regulation 2005, AS2187.1, any applicable licensing conditions and any other condition that may be imposed by WorkCover.

The quantity of railway track signals that can be sold, used, stored or transported without requiring a licence, is 10kg.

Unused railway track signals that are returned from service, whether they are within their use-by date or not, must be placed in their original packaging and stored in a magazine. Failure to do so will change the classification from Class 1.4S to Class 1.1G, creating a potentially dangerous situation – e.g. accumulating them in a bin or drum for later disposal.


Railway track signals issued to rail personnel must be kept in a locked portable magazine, or locked in the glove box of a vehicle, or in a locked compartment of a locomotive.

When transporting railway track signals on a road vehicle, signage for the vehicle is not required; however, transporting on a rail wagon requires a mixed-class label.

When distributing railway track signals for use, they should be transported, as far as is practicable, in their original packaging so that the classification of Class 1.4S is not altered.


To use railway track signals safely and effectively, always follow the supplier’s or manufacturer’s instructions.

Do not use railway track signals for any purpose other than that for which they are designed.

When not required, return the signals to the packaging in which they came and place them in a portable magazine (if out in the field), or return them to the locomotive compartment or to a licensed storage magazine, and ensure that the magazine or compartment is locked.


If disposal of unwanted, misfired or over-age railway track signals is required, contact the manufacturer who will be able to assist in providing this service.

Disposal of railway track signals should only be carried out by a licensed pyrotechnic waste disposal contractor.

It is illegal and dangerous to dispose of railway track signals by burning, disassembling, burying and the like, if you are not set up and licensed by WorkCover to do so.

Download a blank template Bill of Lading shipping paperwork for the return of any expired or unwanted RTS units to Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics Manufacturing here.


Misfires shall be determined as follows;

If, when using RTS, the number of sound reports counted (heard) is less than the number of track signals laid out on the train tracks, a misfire shall be assumed.

If the railway track signal is damaged and unfired content is exposed in a portion of the track signal, it should be treated as a misfire.

Precautions to be taken following a misfire of a RTS
Take precautions to prevent access to the misfired track signal by unauthorised persons.
No person shall approach the misfire until a time interval of 5 minutes has elapsed.

Examination of the misfire
Examination of the misfire will be the responsibility of the site supervisor, primary contractor or licensed operator.

A careful examination should be conducted to determine if explosive composition or debris is present. If so, the track signal shall be immersed in a bucket of water for 10 minutes, then placed in either a RTS canister or a plastic bag (eg a sandwich snap lock bag) keeping it moist, identify the misfired article with a visual lable and moved to a storage container to be stored in a safe place until disposal in accordance with recommended disposal procedure (see disposal information).

Explosive recovered from misfire
No person shall leave unguarded, abandon, discard or otherwise neglect to safely dispose of any explosive recovered in the treatment of misfires (see disposal).

Notification of misfire to Howard & Sons Pyrotechnic
Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics are to be advised immediately of all misfire events, including details of the Lot and Batch numbers, the date of manufacture and the date of expiry so that further investigations may be carried out.

NSW WorkCover Fact Sheet

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