Everything You Need To Know About Transporting An Abnormal Load

Everything You Need To Know About Transporting An Abnormal Load

So, you work in an industry that transports large, cumbersome loads from A to B.

In most cases, it’s perfectly possible to use vans and lorries to transport such goods – but it depends on the type, size and weight of the consignment in question.

Any long, heavy or wide goods, unable to be split into several loads without undue expense or risk of damage (commonly referred to as abnormal loads), can pose a problem.

If you’re new to the industry, you’re probably wondering what abnormal transport is and how it works, right? Well, you’re in luck.

Here haulage experts, JB Rawcliffe & Sons Ltd, explain everything you need to know about heavy haulage and abnormal loads – including the legislations currently in place, the costs involved, and the perks of enlisting the help of a haulage company.


What is an abnormal load?

According to GOV.UK, an abnormal load is a vehicle that has:

  • a load that weighs more than 44,000kg
  • an axle load of more than 10,000kg for a single non-driving axle (or 11,500kg for a single driving axle)
  • a width of more than 2.9 metres
  • a rigid length of more than 18.65 metres

This includes (but is not limited to) transporting new trains to stations, aircraft to airports, industrial machines to factories, motorhomes to caravan sites, yachts to harbours, and oil tanks to businesses up and down the country.


Who should you contact if you need to transport a wide load?

If you need to transport any type of heavy haulage – either in the UK or internationally – you must notify the authorities.

Make sure you give early warnings to the police, highway authorities and bridge and structure owners, such as Network Rail, as you’ll need to allow time to get the necessary clearances. For instance, a Special Order application form must be completed 10 weeks before the scheduled date.

Highways England’s electronic service delivery for abnormal loads (ESDAL) is a brilliant tool to use. It allows you to plan your route and notify the relevant authorities of your proposed movements, find out about any potential route problems in plenty of time, and save vehicle details and routes for future reference.

Another great thing about ESDAL is it ensures safety for drivers, enabling them to prepare for possible restrictions that may occur along the way.


What is the legislation for moving an abnormal load, and why is it in place?

The legislation that covers the movement of wide loads is the Motor Vehicle (Authorisation of Special Types) General Order 2003, or STGO for short.

The STGO stipulates that hauliers planning on transporting abnormal loads are responsible for informing the highway, bridge and police authorities of their intentions.

Why? Well, pre-notifying bridge owners will allow them to check that the movement of a long, heavy or wide load will not place undue stress on structures being crossed. Plus, the transportation of said loads must not cause a hazard or harm to other road users.


Is a vehicle escort necessary?

The simple answer is it depends on the width, length and weight of the load, the proposed route, and the haulage company.

Generally, loads below 4.12m wide, 30m long and 100t don’t need a vehicle escort on roads.

Loads up to 4.6m wide, 30m long and 130t in weight can be transported on motorways without a police or private escort, although some haulage companies will request one or opt to self-escort – especially if there are mitigating circumstances.

For more guidance, refer to the Highways England voluntary code of practice.


How much does heavy haulage cost?

One of the most important factors to consider when it comes to heavy haulage and abnormal load transport is the cost.

Of course, no two haulage companies are the same and their initial quotes and prices will vary, depending on:

  • The size, weight and length of the load – with large, long and unwieldy goods being more expensive to transport than smaller and lighter items.
  • The length of the journey – the further haulage trucks have to travel, the more you’ll pay.
  • The current cost of fuel – heavier items burn more fuel, meaning vehicles will need refuelling more frequently.
  • Any additional services – should you require an escort vehicle or permit, this will add to the overall cost too.

It’s worth noting that abnormal loads will be more expensive than other heavy haulage services, purely because of the dangerous nature of transporting wide loads, and the need to notify the authorities.

To find out how much it will cost you to transport consignments safely and efficiently, contact a couple of haulage companies, preferably those that offer abnormal load transport and have vast experience. Request a quote from each, and make comparisons between their services and pricing.

Here at JB Rawcliffe, we’d be more than happy to discuss your haulage needs in more detail and offer a fair price. Get in touch to find out more.


What are the benefits of hiring a haulage company?

Transporting abnormal loads is never easy and can lead to various potential issues if not executed correctly.

That’s why, when you come to JB Rawcliffe for abnormal load transport and haulage, you can trust that we will assist you with notifying the authorities and keeping proceedings safe. Ensuring your consignments reach their end destination on time and in one piece.

Our haulage specialists have an abundance of experience when it comes to transporting all manner of goods – from expensive equipment to priceless parts and irreplaceable industrial machines. Whatever you need to transport, we can assure you it will be handled with great care and transported using only the most dependable vehicles.

To find out more about our abnormal load transport service, don’t hesitate to call us on 01695 737 880.


Transporting An Abnormal Load FAQs

We've provided unrivalled transport and heavy haulage services across the UK for over 45 years - so we know a thing or two about transporting abnormal loads.

There have been many challenges we have helped customers overcome in our more than four decades in heavy haulage, so you can rely on our experience.

An example would be our successful transportation of two heavy mill house castings from Sheffield to the Port of Goole. This was no easy task – our specialists faced challenges such as weight limits, night-time movement, bridging of structures and motorway contraflow.

Extensive planning and groundwork went into the operation before the haul was executed.

To combat the obstacles posed, our team of experts planned the route, bridged structures, organised special orders, police escorts, council liaisons and street furniture removal.

This enabled the abnormal loads to be moved without incident or damage.

We conduct this level of planning and careful execution for all of our clients, regardless of the load.

Not necessarily - an abnormal load requires an escort vehicle if it exceeds the dimensions and weights set out in the National Highways code of practice.

An abnormal load will require an escort vehicle if;

• The load width exceeds 4.1m for standard roads and 4.6m for motorways.

• The load reaches beyond 30.5m in length, except on the motorway.

• If the load weight exceeds 100 tonnes on standard roads and 130 tonnes on motorways.

Regional police forces may vary these measurements - JB Rawcliffe ensures they follow the requirements outlined by National Highways and local police.

Heavy haulage for abnormal loads is a specialist area and requires additional levels of qualifications and experience, as well as the correct equipment and more detailed logistical planning.

Always hire professionals with years of experience in transporting abnormal loads.


Heavy lifting and abnormal vehicles are specialist machines designed to move heavy and awkward loads.

Heavy haulage companies have competent operators to control these machines and know what loading equipment to use depending on the load.


A knowledgeable firm such as JB Rawcliffe will evaluate and plan a haul from start to finish, addressing any hazards or challenges that may endanger loads.

From route planning to vehicle escort organisation, we ensure your load reaches its destination without incident.

Also known as a heavy or oversized load, abnormal loads can’t be taken apart like normal loads and are legally too weighty for lorry transportation. Instead, they must be lifted, loaded, and transported using specialist machinery and vehicles.

The standard criteria used to classify an abnormal load are as follows:

• A mass including and beyond 44,000 kg

• A diameter of 2.9m or more

• 27.4m or beyond in length

JB Rawcliffe uses hydraulic cranes or jacking systems to lift abnormal loads. Length, weight, and height are factored in when conducting a lift.

As for transportation, we use heavy-duty trailers and hauliers to carry your abnormal load to its destination.

Interested in our abnormal load transportation services? Call us on 01695 737880 or email us at enquiries@jbrawcliffe.com for more details and quotes.

JB Rawcliffe & Sons Ltd
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