Abnormal indivisible road loads

Definitions and procedures for moving abnormal loads

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.

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.

Read Highways England’s information on abnormal indivisible road loads.

The Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003 Schedule 9 Part 1 Article 2 at http://legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2003/1998/schedule/9/made.

How to notify us

There are various ways to tell us that you are planning to move an Abnormal Load:


ESDAL is a free tool provided by Highways England so that you can submit compliant notices. ESDAL automatically 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 Highways England website, or you can contact the ESDAL support team on 01642 636 789 or enquiries@esdal.com


If you prefer to use email to issue a notification, we provide a number of tools to help you to identify if Network Rail will be affected by your Abnormal Load.

  • ‘Live’ capacity data via Google Maps is available in a zip file, with instructions included. This data is designed to help notifiers assess whether a proposed route traverses any Network Rail structure for which the vehicle is likely to be too onerous. By ‘live’ we mean that the data for individual bridges will be updated whenever our engineers indicate that an amendment is necessary.
  • For Excel and AutoRoute users we offer details of the location of our structures, as well as an allowable gross vehicle weight for all our bridges on the public highway. This information is updated on a quarterly basis.You can email a request for any of the above tools to AbnormalLoadsContact@networkrail.co.uk.
  • Emailed notifications should be sent using the Highways England template – please print out and complete all sections.

Which email address to use

  • If your road load exceeds the allowable weight indicated by our tools and you would like us to carry out a more detailed assessment based upon your vehicle configuration, please email your notice to AbnormalLoadsAA@networkrail.co.uk
  • If your road load is within the allowable weight please email your notice to Abnormal.Loads@networkrail.co.uk


Hauliers must indemnify* us against possible damage when an abnormal load traverses our structures.

We accept annual indemnities.

Please send your indemnity to our office in the correct format:

by email to AbnormalLoadsContact@networkrail.co.uk
or by post to:

Network Rail
The Quadrant:MK
Abnormal Loads c/o Francis Hennigan
Elder Gate
Milton Keynes MK9 1EN

The Road Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) (General) Order 2003 Schedule 9 Part 2 Article 17 at http://legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2003/1998/schedule/9/made.