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What kinds of pet carriers are allowed on UK trains? The National Rail website says:

Dogs without leads, cats, birds and small animals must be carried in an enclosed cage or pet carrier which must be rigid and not open (to prevent escape) and the animal able to stand and lie down in comfort.

How strictly is "rigid" defined? In other words, is it required to have a hard plastic carrier, or are soft shell carriers allowed?

In case this is relevant I will be travelling from Ashford International to Glasgow.

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I don't think it is defined... rigidly. It's probably more for the animal's welfare in terms of being squashed, kicked, etc in its carrier when the train is busy.

Train operators' policies vary, but most don't repeat the 'rigid carrier' rule mentioned on National Rail. In general the operator's policy wins out over anything stated by NR.

Southeastern say:

Pets other than dogs must be carried in a fully enclosed basket or pet carrier with dimensions not exceeding 85 x 60 x 60 cm and cannot be taken out of their basket or carrier. If your pet causes a nuisance, inconvenience or a safety hazard to other passengers you may be politely asked to remove your pet from the train or station property.

Avanti West Coast say:

We want to ensure that you, your pet and your fellow passengers have an enjoyable journey, so we ask anyone taking dogs on trains to keep them on a lead or in a carrier. Cats, birds and other small animals should also be kept in a carrier no larger than 85 x 60 x 60cm in size. We want all of our passengers, even the four-legged ones, to travel in comfort, so your carrier should be designed to allow your pet to stand up and lie down easily.

South Western Railway say:

If you’re travelling with a cat, rabbit, guinea pig, hamster or any other small domestic animal, you’ll need to bring them in a pet carrier. The same rules apply for as dogs – you can bring up to 2 pets free of charge.

Animals other than dogs must travel in a fully enclosed basket or pet carrier designed for this purpose with dimensions not exceeding 85 x 60 x 60 cm. Baskets and pet carriers must be large enough to allow the animal to stand and lie down in comfort. Animals which are too large for a basket or pet carrier with dimensions 85x 60 x 60 cm may not be allowed on board.

Travel can be stressful for pets, so we advise keeping your carrier on your knee and bringing snacks, water and toys to keep them happy.

GWR say:

Other small domestic animals must always travel in a fully enclosed carrier that does not exceed 85 x 60 x 60 cm.

Scotrail say:

Domestic pets are welcome on the train: you can bring up to two with you. That includes the dog, the cat, or the tortoise – but they must be on a lead or in a travel cage.

Transport for Wales say:

Passengers may take a cat or other small animals with them (maximum two per passenger), free of charge and subject to conditions below, provided they do not endanger or inconvenience passengers or staff.

Cats or any other small animals must be carried in an enclosed basket, cage or pet carrier. It must be rigid and not open (to prevent escape) and the animal able to stand and lie down in comfort.

Animals and containers must not occupy seats, otherwise, a charge will be made.

and others have variations of similar wording.

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  • This was very helpful, thank you!
    – Aru Ray
    Mar 18 at 21:05

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