Abnormal indivisible road loads

We monitor movement of abnormal road loads over more than 7,000 Network Rail owned structures to ensure the safety of both road and rail users.

Working closely with Highway Authorities, Police, and Hauliers, we mitigate risks to these structures and enable the safe passage of abnormal loads across the country. Network Rail abnormal loads team works closely with Network Rail engineers across the country to maintain datasets and records to enable informed decision making. We provide a single point of contact for an activity that operates on a national scale.

What is an abnormal load?

An ‘abnormal load’ is a road vehicle that has any of the following:

  • A gross vehicle weight of more than 44,000 kilograms.
  • An axle load of more than 10,000 kilograms for a single non-driving axle and 11,500 kilograms for a single driving axle.
  • A width of more than 2.9 metres.
  • A rigid length of more than 18.65 metres and cannot, without undue expense or risk of damage, be divided into two or more loads for the purpose of being carried on a road.

We need to know if you intend to cross our structure

One in seven Network Rail structures is unsuitable for abnormal loads. Therefore it is very important that we are notified of any movements within the timeframe outlined in the Regulations as shown below. This not only helps us to prevent damage to our structures, it also informs hauliers if a route they intend to take will pose unnecessary risk to themselves.

Notifying us about a movement

The Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003

Hauliers intending to move an Abnormal Load on the public highway are required by Regulation to notify all relevant highway, bridge and police authorities and to indemnify them in respect of any damage that is caused to roads or bridges in the course of the journey.

You must therefore notify us if your route crosses over one or more bridges or tunnels owned by Network Rail.

The Regulations also specify when you must notify us, in relation to the start date of your intended movement:

  • For vehicles with a gross weight between 80 tonnes and 150 tonnes we need five clear working days’ notice.
  • For vehicles with a gross weight of up to 80 tonnes we need two clear working days’ notice.
  • Weekends and bank holidays are not considered working days.

You can find the full regulation on legislation.gov.uk or visit the Highways England website for further information on transporting abnormal loads.


Hauliers must indemnify us against possible damage when an abnormal load traverses our structures. This can be either by move or annually. Please email us your Indemnity form (docx)Note that if you are using ESDAL you will automatically be prompted to indemnify all authorities to whom the notification is sent. In this case, you do not need to provide a separate indemnity.

How to notify us

The best way to notify us about abnormal load movements is through Highways England’s Electronic Service Delivery for Abnormal Loads, or ESDAL. This is a free tool which identifies affected authorities for you and forwards your notification to the correct areas. ESDAL will also identify a number of known issues with proposed routes prior to submission.

More information about ESDAL is on the Government website, or you can contact the ESDAL support team at 01642 049 830  or enquiries@esdal2.com

If you are not able to use this service, please contact us using the details below to discuss other methods of notification.

Contact the Network Rail Abnormal Loads Team

Email: abnormalloadsenquiries@networkrail.co.uk