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I have heard that there are now new height restrictions at level crossings in Auckland. What heights are affected?

The Auckland rail network is being electrified and overhead wires are being installed. This means there are height restrictions at level crossings in Auckland. Most are set at 5m but some are 4.25m.

All vehicles that are within the NZ Transport Agency’s dimension limits for height - 4.25 metres - can safely cross any level crossing within the Auckland electrified area. The table explains what you need to do to take a vehicle or load over 4.25m in height over a level crossing.

Height and Operating Conditions

Greater than 4.25 metres - up to and including 5 metres: Written approval from KiwiRail, if you want to take the vehicle over a level crossing, and any part fo the vehicle or load exceeds the height restriction shown on the safe height sign at the level crossing.

Greater than 5 metres: Written approval from KiwiRail, if you want to take the vehicle over a level crossing.

If you are unsure of the height restrictions at the level crossings you wish to cross, you should call KiwiRail Operations support desk on 04 474 2323 or see the map showing the locations and height restrictions at each level crossing in Auckland.

I received a leaflet saying signs will be posted at level crossings showing what these new height restrictions are. At the level crossings I use there are no signs or evidence of overhead wires. Do I still need to apply for written permission from KiwiRail?

You only need to apply for permission when signs and wires are erected or where signs are not erected if your height exceeds 5.2m. If you are unsure about which level crossings have wires and signs erected, and therefore height restrictions, call KiwiRail Operations support desk on 04 474 2323 or email

How do I obtain a written permission from KiwiRail to cross a level crossing with an overheight load?

To obtain permission contact the KiwiRail Operations Support desk on tel: 04 474 2323 or email:

Why do we need a height clearance limit?

Height clearance limits are set at level crossings in electrified areas of the rail network to ensure a minimum safe distance between the highest part of any vehicle (including any radio aerials) and the lowest part of the overhead wires is maintained at all times.

The requirements and procedures for taking an overheight load over a level crossing are in line with those laid down by the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimension and Mass 2002 and its amendments.

What precautions do I need to take to safely cross a level crossing?

To stay safe, you must always obey all warning signs and alarms at level crossings. You should not queue on a level crossing or begin to move across one unless you know your vehicle can completely clear it.

What should I do if my vehicle comes in contact with an overhead wire?

In the event of an emergency on or near a level crossing, stay in the vehicle and call the Train Control Emergency line on 0800 808 400. This is the safest course of action. KiwiRail advise all operators of overdimension vehicles, who cross the railways, to have this number easily accessible in their cabs at all times. If you can see a train approaching, you should jump clear such that no part of the vehicle is touched and both feet land on the ground.

How do I report an accident on a level crossing?

In the event of an emergency on or near a level crossing, call the Train Control Emergency line on 0800 808 400. KiwiRail advise all operators of overheight vehicles who cross the railways to have this number easily accessible in their cabs at all times.

What should I do if I reach a level crossing and then realise that my load is over the sign posted height restriction?

If it is possible to do so safely, you should turn around or back out and find another route that your load can pass under safely. If this is not possible, you will need to call the KiwiRail Operations Support desk on 04 474 2323 to see if an urgent permit can be issued. There is no guarantee that this can be issued.

What is the maximum sized load allowed to cross tracks?

For more information on maximum tolerances at level crossings call the KiwiRail Operations Support desk on 04 474 2323.

Who decides the clearance limits?

These clearances are determined by Electrical Safety Regulations that specify the electrical safety clearances between the highest point of vehicle or load and wires.

How much does an oversized load permit cost?

The permit fee varies depending on the amount of work required to enable the load to cross. We can give you an indicative cost when you apply but won’t know the final price until after we have completed the job.

How long does permission last?

Usually permission is for a single journey. But if you have an oversized load that needs to cross the tracks regularly, we may grant a six month permit.

Why can’t I cross within 24 hours of applying for permission?

Crossing the rail network with an oversized load can require a lot of preparation work and our staff need to be booked in advance.

What does KiwiRail do to help oversized loads cross the tracks?

Long loads For vehicles over 20 metres long our train control centre checks that trains are not approaching when you want to cross. Barrier arms may need to be altered.
Wide loads For vehicles over 6 metres wide we can temporarily remove warning signs at level crossings.
High loads We may suggest an alternative safe route, over a bridge or private rail crossing. Or we may set up an alternative warning system and temporarily move signs and other obstacles.

What does an oversized load crossing permit specify?

The permit specifies:

  • crossing procedures
  • crossing point
  • crossing time
  • safety measures

Once the crossing is complete the permit holder must inform Train Control that the load is clear of the crossing. Until Train Control gets a clearance the load is deemed to still be on the crossing.

Why are these height restrictions different from those on the Palmerston North to Hamilton electrified section of railway, which are at 5.24m?

The height restrictions on the NIMT Palmerston North to Hamilton section were set in the 1980s under the Electrical Regulations applicable at that time. The Auckland clearances comply with internationally accepted standards for railway traction systems which are now cited in the current Electrical (Safety) Regulations which specify an increased clearance to the overhead lines. Thus the Auckland electrification clearances are fully compliant with current statutory requirements specified in the Electrical (Safety) Regulations

Why is KiwiRail's over-dimension standard different from Land Transport New Zealand’s?

We use ‘over 20 metres’ as ‘over-dimension’ because of the time it takes a vehicle of that length to cross the tracks can exceed our minimum train warning or viewing times.

Need more help?

Contact our KiwiRail Network Operations Support team:
KiwiRail Operations Support Desk,
National Train Control Centre
Phone (04) 474 2323
Fax (04) 474 2324