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By shipping large machinery with substantial dimensions on our extensive network, we keep your business moving.

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To deliver goods to you, we work with 245 short line partners.

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Our network of 19,000+ miles of rail lines drives growth for our customers and competition in a global marketplace.

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Request Clearance for Your Oversized Freight Shipment

You’ll need to request clearance if:

  • Your shipment is over 200,000 lbs 
  • Your shipment is over 10’6” in width
  • Your shipment is over 15’6” in loaded height
  • The lading overhangs the side sills or end of the railcar
  • The length of the lading exceeds 60 feet
  • The load is concentrated (the load is shorter than 18 feet)
  • The car you use is loaded outside the plate as registered in UMLER

Download, complete, and submit the Clearance Request Form to nsclearances@nscorp.

If a clearance file requires empty buffer or idler cars before and/or after the load you are shipping, you must order via AccessNS. Your request needs to contain the number and equipment type for the buffer/idler (either or both) via AccessNS HERE.

BUFFER cars are ANY car type and are not limited to flat cars; requests can be filled with any car type.

IDLER car requests are filled with flat cars only due to the dimensional load it’s associated with.

Get Started With a Dimensional or Oversized Shipment

Norfolk Southern ships generators, transformers, farm and construction machinery, wind turbines, and other similar commodities. Here are the steps to get started with your oversized freight shipment:

  1. As a shipper, you need to register at AccessNS to arrange payment. For information on how to register, contact your marketing representative. A shipper can apply for credit with Norfolk Southern or arrange for prepayment by wire transfer. Payment conditions must be fulfilled prior to shipment.
  2. If necessary, complete the clearance request form and attach a drawing of the lading. Email it to and copy the appropriate marketing contact at top of right column. Go to the Clearance Requests tabs to find out if you need to submit a clearance request.
  3. The shipper must locate a suitable siding for loading/unloading to/from the rail car prior to shipment.
  4. The shipper should contact Norfolk Southern Industrial Development at to coordinate a track inspection by Norfolk Southern Engineering and secure permissions from Norfolk Southern Transportation to handle the load.
  5. The shipper must also arrange for logistics of unloading at the siding prior to shipment, including site inspection for verification of crane and truck access, DOT permits to move load to final site, execution of a Temporary Siding Lease Agreement for Hi-Wide loads, and providing valid Certificate of Insurance to Norfolk Southern Risk Management. Refer to the FAQs at the bottom of this page for Certificate of Insurance Requirements.
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Key Resources for Dimensional & Oversized Freight Shipping

Clearance Request Form

Complete the clearance request form and submit with a drawing of the lading to the NS Clearance Department at nsclearances@nscorp.

Allowable Gross Weight Map

Explore Norfolk Southern’s bridge and track weight capacities.

Manage Logistics

Track shipments, get real-time data, request pricing, and more with our one-stop digital dashboard.


Explore equipment options, move equipment into service, or learn more about loading and securement.

Billing & Financing

View and pay freight invoices, establish credit, update electronic billing information, or get an overcharge refund.

Expand Your Footprint

Connect with us to find the site you need and make informed site-location and expansion decisions

Calculate Your Carbon Savings

Explore how much your company could reduce its carbon emissions by shipping with Norfolk Southern. Check out our Carbon Calculator.

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Dimensional loads are generally described as any load exceeding any of the following criteria:

  • 200,000 lbs
  • 10’6” in width
  • 15’6” in loaded height 
  • Lading that overhangs the side sills or end of railcar 
  • Length exceeding 60 feet or less than 18 feet
  • Cars loaded outside the plate as registered in UMLER

Loads requiring special equipment may also be considered dimensional. Dimensional loads come in all shapes and sizes. A load inside these parameters may also be considered dimensional under certain circumstances. Only the Norfolk Southern Clearance Department may make the determination of a dimensional or non-dimensional shipment. Dimensional shipments are subject to delays not otherwise affecting non-dimensional shipments. Dimensional shipments require a clearance file in order to move across the railroad. The Clearance Department is responsible for clearing routes. Customer Service is responsible for monitoring loaded dimensional shipments.

The shipper must obtain rates, clearances and order cars from the originating railroad. Please note that interline moves require additional time for clearance and rating from foreign roads.

Begin by registering at AccessNS and then filling out the Clearance and Rate Request Form found on our website. NS clearance files are valid for six months from date of issue.

The Norfolk Southern Clearance Department reviews the information you provided. Once a determination is made, or if more information is needed, a representative will contact you.

Obtaining credit is the preferred method of doing business with Norfolk Southern.


You may also pre-pay for your shipment by wire transfer. A pre-paid wire transfer must include payment for all freight charges, any applicable fuel surcharge and any accessorial charges. If you choose to pay by wire transfer, you must pay before your car is inspected and include your company’s name (or shipper name, if different), the shipment’s origin and destination as stated in the waybill, the car number and the governing rate authority.


Visit our Billing and Financing page to learn more about payment options.

Yes. Some dimensional loads require:

  • The use of heavy-duty flat cars and other specialty equipment
  • Special train service
  • Special handling
  • Idler cars 
  • Circuitous routing
  • Speed restrictions
  • And more

If your shipment is equal to or greater than: 

  • 286,000 lbs. on a 4-axle car
  • 480,000 lbs. on a 8-axle car 
  • 12-axle or greater cars may require clearance, as they typically need empty buffer cars for weight distribution.

To order standard flats from Norfolk Southern, email: To order Heavy Duty flats from TTX or KRL, email request to

Use the following format:

  • Railcar request:
  • Clearance file #:
  • Railcar series: (EXAMPLE QTTX 130700)
  • Number of cars: 1 (ONE)
  • Loading location:
  • Estimated loading date:

Note: When ordering standard flat cars please note if it is to be used for an idler or for a buffer.

Place orders 4 to 6 weeks in advance of loading for heavy-duty cars and a minimum of two (2) weeks in advance of loading for standard equipment. Shipper can order a standard flat car from AccessNS for any standard shipments not requiring a clearance file.

An idler is an empty car placed between your shipment and the next load. Idlers are required for shipments that overhang the end sills of a railcar and/or are of excessive weight as determined by the Norfolk Southern engineering department. The Norfolk Southern Clearance Department will determine if one or more idler cars is needed for your shipment.

Special Train Charges are applied to dimensional moves that require special train service or special handling. Special train service and charges are in addition to regular freight charges. Special Train Charges are assessed for numerous reasons, including (but not limited to):

  • High combined center of gravity
  •  Extreme width of load
  •  Extreme length of load
  •  Multiple speed, stop and walk restrictions
  •  Speed-restricted cars or restrictions placed on shipments
  • Customer request for expedited service
  • Type of equipment used · Routes without general service

Circuitous routing may be necessary when a load exceeds the weight or dimensional maximums for a given route. The routing is necessary to move the load safely to its destination. Circuitous routing will likely affect the freight rate and transit time.

The shipper is responsible for loading and securing shipments to the railcar. However, Norfolk Southern Marketing Representatives can provide contact information for qualified riggers, experienced in loading equipment in compliance with AAR Open Top Loading Rules.


If a load is off center on the rail car, counterweights may be necessary. Width is determined by measuring the widest half of the load and doubling it.


Please be advised that Norfolk Southern requires that all AAR tie-down diagrams relative to approved shipments are approved by Norfolk Southern Damage Prevention. Norfolk Southern will not send a mechanical representative to the loading location until the diagram has been approved by Loading and Securement Solutions.

Once the car is loaded, shipper contacts Customer Service at 800-635-5768 to request a mechanical inspection. Ask for the representative who covers your geographic area. Mechanical inspection and finalized measurements are submitted to Norfolk Southern Clearances. If the finalized measurements are within dimensions previously approved by Norfolk Southern Clearances for this route, the dimensional load may be approved for forwarding. Norfolk Southern clearance files are valid for six months from date of issue.