Norway Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

The E16 over the Filefjell.

According to wholevehicles, the Norwegian road network can be described as very extensive, but is not well developed due to the mountainous character of large parts of the country. Despite its vastness, the road network is usually in good condition. Because the population is mainly concentrated along the coast and in the south of the country, most roads are located here and these roads are therefore mainly developed in these locations. Motorways are few and far between in Norway. Most are concentrated around the Oslo region. Intensities of an average of 50,000 vehicles per day or more are achieved here, just like in the Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim region. Outside these areas and between these areas, most roads are no wider than a two-lane carriageway and most intensities do not exceed 5,000 vehicles per day, on many secondary roads, fewer than 1,000 vehicles drive per day. In Northern Norway in particular, the amount of traffic is low.

Characteristic of a ride through the Norwegian landscape are the many bridges, tunnels and ferry services that have to be passed due to the geography. A journey that could be completed in about 10 minutes as the crow flies is very steep because of these obstacles. These objects often have to pay a toll, referred to in Norwegian as Bompenger. The toll plazas are called Bomstasjon. There is often a cordon of toll gates around the larger cities. Those revenues generated from toll charges are used to improve existing infrastructure or build new ones, such as replacing ferry services with bridges, tunnels or new roads.

A number of roads, bridges and/or tunnels are impassable during the winter season due to snowfall. There can still be snow above the Arctic Circle from autumn until well into May, which is why studded tires are mandatory during this period.

Motorways

In Norway there are motorways around the largest cities. The largest network is in and around the capital Oslo, where longer highways can be found, mainly the E6 and E18. Also around Trondheim, Bergen and Stavanger there are some short highways and here and there some short sections. Some highways are quite substandard. In Oslo and Bergen, not all highways actually have that status, for example, around Oslo you are often only allowed to drive 70 km/h. Motorways have blue signposts.

The Norwegian motorway network is 460 kilometers long. Most highways are (partial) toll roads. The speed limit on Norwegian highways has been 90 km/h for some time, although 100 km/h is increasingly used. The speed limits for Norwegian highways are among the lowest in Europe. In the southeast of Norway, the E6 and E18 are partially allowed to drive 110 km/h.

Motorcycle & riksveier in Norway
Motorvei: E6 • E16 • E18 • E39 • RV159 • RV190 • RV555 • Ring 3Europavei: E6 • E8 • E10 • E12 • E14 • E16 • E18 • E39 • E45 • E69 • E75 • E105 • E134 • E136

Riksveier: 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 7 • 9 • 12 • 13 • 13 • 15 • 17 • 19 • 21 • 22 • 22 • 23 • 24 • 25 • 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34• 35 • 36 • 373840 • 41 • 42434445464748495051 • 52 • 53 • 55 • 5557606162636465 •70 • 72 • 73 • 7476 • 77 • 78 • 79 • 80 • 8182 • 83 • 8384 • 85 • 868791 • 92 • 93 • 94 • 98 • 110 • 111 • 150 • 159 • 162 • 163• 190 • 420 • 509 • 555 • 706 • 827 • 893

Motorways

Parts of E-wegen and Riksveier, and in some cases also fylkesveier, have been developed as a motortrafikkvei, a motorway. There is no real network, but parts of the routes have been developed as motorways. Technically, these are considered a “motorvei class B”. Sometimes they are 2×2 lanes wide, often also 2+1 or 2×1. The maximum speed on this is a maximum of 90 km/h. The connections are usually level-level.

Main roads

In Norway, an average motorist will cover a lot of kilometers on regular main roads, the riksveier and fylkesveier. The build quality varies greatly, on some E-roads parts are too narrow to mark two lanes. Due to the mountainous nature of Norway, many roads are very winding. There are numerous mountain passes in Norway. Driving on Norwegian roads, even the main roads, often takes more time than maps suggest. An average of 60 km/h is already estimated to be quite high, especially on fylkesveier. In the western fjord area in particular, there are few roads where you can drive at 80 km/h for a longer period of time. Traffic is very low outside the major cities, despite the fact that there are no motorways, freight traffic is hardly affected. There are many tunnels and bridges in the main roads. Some of the largest bridges in Norway are located in these roads, such as the Hardanger Bridge. In Norway it is not uncommon to overtake in tunnels, as these are often the only straights where oncoming traffic can be seen from a greater distance. Overtaking is also allowed in most tunnels outside the larger cities.

Bridges

In Norway, due to the mountainous character and the strongly articulated coast, there are many bridges, especially many suspension bridges. About half of all suspension bridges in Europe are in Norway. There are more than 21,000 bridges in Norway.

A number of larger wooden road bridges have been built in Norway. These are mostly bridges without weight restrictions, which trucks of 50 tons are allowed to cross. On February 17, 2016, a wooden bridge over the E6 near Sjoa collapsed when a truck drove over it. On 15 August 2022, a bridge over the E6 and the Gudbrandsdalslågen River collapsed when a truck ran over it. Both bridges were relatively new. As a result of the bridge collapses, 14 comparable wooden truss bridges have been closed, including two bridges on the E16. A number of closed bridges have been replaced by temporary bridges.

Tunnels

In August 2016 there were 1,166 traffic tunnels in Norway with a combined length of approximately 800 kilometers. These can be divided into regular tunnels through mountains and underground in cities, or submarine tunnels that pass under a fjord or strait. The deepest tunnel is the Eiksundtunnel near Volda which goes 287 meters below sea level. The longest tunnel is the 24.5 kilometer long Lærdalstunnel, which is also the longest road tunnel in the world. The Boknafjord tunnel will be the longest and deepest tunnel at 26.5 kilometers. It is also made two-tube. Every year, an average of 20 to 30 kilometers of new tunnels are built in Norway.

Norwegian tunnels must comply with Directive 2004/54/EC (Tunnel Act) by 2019. All tunnels longer than 500 meters in the national road network will be upgraded. This concerns 200 tunnels that must be modernized by April 2019. On average, there are 20 large and small fires per year in Norwegian tunnels. Of the 1,100 tunnels, 41 are located in a steep slope of more than 6%. 44 percent of all tunnel fires take place in these steep tunnels. Of the 33 subsea tunnels in 2016, only one met the recommended maximum gradient of 5%.

The Norwegian tunnels are almost exclusively drilled using the explosive method, in 2015 a tunnel boring machine was used for a 7.6 kilometer long tunnel for a hydropower project in Nordland, this was the first bored tunnel with a TBM in Norway in 22 years. After 2015, a number of railway tunnels in Norway were constructed with tunnel boring machines. Tunnel boring machines are mainly more efficient for long tunnels, and less so for short or complex tunnels, partly because of the long delivery time and high cost of a tunnel boring machine. In addition, Norwegian soil is more suitable for the explosives method than in many other countries, and the use of the traditional method is more flexible than a tunnel boring machine.

Ferry services

In Norway you will have to make regular use of ferry services when traveling in the western fjord area. Although the number of ferry services on the main routes has been reduced since the 1990s due to the construction of large bridges and tunnels, ferry services are still mainly found on the north-south routes in western and central Norway. Even the E6 in Nordland is still interrupted by a ferry service. The E39 still has numerous ferry services, although a completely ferry-free E39 is planned in the long term. Ferry services are mainly numerous in the regions of Hordaland, Rogaland, Sogn og Fjordane and Møre og Romsdal. The crossings often range from 5 to 45 minutes, in some cases there are longer crossings, for example from Bodø to Lofoten or international ferries from Denmark and Germany.

Border crossings

Although Norway is not a member of the European Union, it is part of the Nordic Passport Union and therefore de facto part of Schengen, although there are restrictions on the import of articles. There are no structural border controls on the Norwegian border, except with Russia. Many border crossings are located in remote areas and often there are no physical border posts, customs are often at the first larger place.

Driving in winter

Driving in Norwegian winter.

Winter driving in Norway requires more preparation and demands on the vehicle and driver than elsewhere in Europe. The combination of mountainous terrain, exposed plateaus and pass crossings, winter weather with a lot of snow and wind means that some roads are closed in winter, and on others only column riding behind a snowplow is allowed in bad weather conditions.

Winter closures

The following routes are usually closed in winter. The exact closing period may vary. In addition to the winter closures, many routes also have night closures.

Away Procedure Closing month Opening month
E69 Skarsvag – Nordkapp 10 04
fv. 13 Gaularfjellet 12 05
fv. 51 valdresflye 12 04
fv. 55 Sognefjellet 11 05
fv. 63 Geiranger – Langvatn 11 05
fv. 63 Trollstigen 10 05
fv. 243 Aurland – Erdal 11 06
fv. 252 Tyin – Eidsbugarden 10 06
fv. 258 Gamle Strynefjellsveg 10 06
fv. 337 Brokke – Suleskard 11 05
fv. 341 Smelror – Hamningsberg 11 05
fv. 355 Melfjellet 11 05
fv. 520 Hellandsbygd – Røldal 11 06
fv. 886 Jarfjordfjellet (Vintervollen – Grense Jacobselv) 11 05

Colonial riding

Column riding (kolonnekjøring) is applied on some mountain sections that are too important to be closed in winter. You then drive behind a snow shovel over the mountain route. Usually there is a waiting period.

When riding in a column, there is a line up at the beginning of the mountain route. Mountain sections such as the Hardangervidda have stabling lanes for this. Driving will only take place if there are sufficient vehicles. However, there is also a maximum number of vehicles that can travel in a column on the mountain route at the same time. The column is preceded by a snowplow. A snow shovel also drives at the back of the column to prevent vehicles from being left behind.

For safety reasons, no more than one column travels on the mountain section at a time. The convoy commanders may refuse vehicles if they are not adequately equipped for convoy driving. Winter tires are mandatory, snow chains are mandatory for vehicles over 3.5 tons.

Traffic in the Finnmark region is very low. It is not waited until there are enough vehicles, as that could take hours, but convoy driving is applied at fixed times. On some routes, convoy driving is adapted to the timetable of ferry services. In Finnmark in particular, convoys are only driven a few times a day, intervals of 2 to 4 hours are common here. At night, column routes are closed to all traffic.

Tips:

Colonial riding in Norway.

  • Make sure you have enough fuel, as there are often considerable waiting times
  • Take a flashlight, tow rope and snow shovel in the car
  • Bring food and (warm) drinks
  • Put on warm clothes and winter shoes

While riding a column:

  • Turn on the air conditioning to prevent ice build-up on the windshield
  • use the hazard lights
  • use fog lights if they are in the vehicle
  • keep eye contact with the vehicle in front of you
  • keep a steady speed and follow the column
  • don’t leave the column and don’t turn
  • if it is absolutely necessary to stop, do not leave the vehicle under any circumstances

List of routes with convoy riding

In bad weather conditions, convoy driving is possible on the routes below.

away Procedure Phylke
E6 dovrefjell Pland
E6 saltfjellet Nordland
E6 Kvænagsfjellet Troms
E6 Gratangsfjellet Troms
E6 Sennalandet Finnmark
E6 Hatter Finnmark
E10 Bjornfjell Nordland
E16 filefjell Oppland / Sogn og Fjordane
E69 Hønsa-Honningsvåg-Skarsvåg Finnmark
E134 Haukelifjell Telemark / Hordaland
Rv. 7 Hardangervidda Buskerud / Hordaland
Rv. 9 Hovden-Haukeli Telemark / Aust-Agder
Rv. 13 Vikafjellet Hordaland / Sogn og Fjordane
Rv. 15 Strynefjellet Oppland / Sogn og Fjordane
Rv. 52 Hemsedalsfjellet Buskerud / Sogn og Fjordane
Rv. 77 Graddis Nordland
fv. 27 Venabygdsfjellet Oppland / Hedmark
fv. 50 Hol-Aurland Buskerud / Sogn og Fjordane
fv. 76 Tosenfjellet Nordland
fv. 98 Ifjordfjellet Finnmark
fv. 813 Beiarfjellet Nordland
fv. 888 Bekkardfjord-Hopseidet Finnmark
fv. 889 Snefjord-Havøysund Finnmark
fv. 890 Kongsfjordfjellet Finnmark
fv. 891 Båtsfjordsfjellet Finnmark

Floods, landslides & avalanches

The riksvei 15 at the Øvstefoss, east of Stryn.

Natural disasters are something that has more impact in Norway than in most other places in Europe. Floods occur almost annually, especially in May-June when temperatures rise rapidly and much snow melts at a rapid rate. This particularly affects the valley of the Glomma in eastern Norway, roads that run along this river, including the E6, are sometimes closed due to high water.

Many landslides occur in spring and during rainfall. Many slopes are unstable, rocks and sand come down easily. Landslides frequently cause road closures. The Norwegian government is actively tunneling landslide-prone stretches. Because the road network in Norway is thin, a road closure quickly means a lot of extra travel time. In winter, many avalanches also occur, which means that roads with avalanche danger are sometimes closed.

Road types

The highest class of roads are the Europawegen, Europavei. They appear on the signage with an E number in white letters on a green background shield. The 2nd class roads are the state highways, Riksvei. These national roads are roads of high national importance and can be compared with the Dutch N-roads with figures below 100, such as the N9 and N33. State highways appear with their state highway number in white on a green background shield. The 3rd class roads are the regional roads, fylkesvei. These appear in black on a white background shield. These three types of roads are all managed and maintained by the State, the Statens Vegvesen. The fylkesvei exist in two classes, the original fylkesveier and the fylkesveier which were a riksvei before 2010. The road numbers are not unique and can be reassigned in each fylke (province). Many original fylkesveier have no signposted road number.

The roads are designed as much as possible according to a road class. There are 9 road classes, each with a desired cross section and design speed. In practice, many roads have a substandard design, with narrower trajectories than actually desired. The minimum road width is 7.5 meters for the lowest road class, but roads are sometimes narrower, including major major roads in mountainous areas. Lanes should be 3 meters wide except at speed limits of less than 50 km/h (residential streets). Motorways and motorways have a lane width of 3.5 meters.

The best developed roads in Norway are motorveier (motorways) and motortrafikkveier (motorways). The motorways have relatively rigid design requirements, which means that not all grade separated roads with 2×2 lanes and a lane separation actually have the status of motor vehicle. In practice, therefore, the ‘motorways’ in the major cities such as Oslo and Trondheim are often designed as motorways, with corresponding yellow signage. As a result, the network of motorways in Norway is relatively limited.

Road numbering

Trollstigen (fylkesvei 63) near Åndalsnes.

In Norway there are four layers of road numbers, the European roads (europavei), the state roads (riksvei), the primary provincial roads with road numbering on the signage (primær/skiltet fylkesvei) and secondary state roads without road numbering on the signage (sekundær/uskiltet fylkesveier). The E-roads follow the European road numbering. Even numbers run west-east and their numbers increase southwards, with the exception of the E6, which is the main route from south to north through Norway. In addition, there are some three-digit E-roads such as the E134 and E136.

In addition to the E numbers, Norway has an integral system of national road numbering, divided between riksveier and fylkesveier. These numbers consist of one, two or three digits. The riksveier form the main road network and are indicated on the signage with a green road number plate. The primære/skiltete fylkesveier form the regional road network and are indicated on the signage with a white road number plate. Often the same road number runs over both parts of riksvei and fylkesvei.

Not all numbers are used in the national road numbering system; a number of road numbers have been replaced by E numbers. The lower numbers often run from Oslo.

The sekundære/uskiltete fylkesveier form the local access road network. These roads are numbered per fylke and have a one, two or three digit road number. Because this numbering system is separate from the national system per fylke, overlap occurs. This poses few problems for the road user, since the road number of the sekundære fylkesveier is only indicated on kilometer markers, and not on the signage.

Road management

In Norway, the numbered road network is divided into national roads (riksveier) and provincial roads (fylkesveier). The national roads are owned by the national government, the provincial roads are owned by the provinces (fylkes). Both types of roads are planned, constructed and maintained by Statens Vegvesen. This is comparable to other countries in Scandinavia.

Signage

Signage on the E6 at Halden.

Norway mainly uses two colors on signage, blue on motorways and yellow on other roads. On many maps, motorways are indicated that in practice do not have this status, so they also have yellow signposts with black letters. The livery is thus similar to Germany.

The font on Norwegian signage has been trafikkalfabetet since 1965. Before 2002, this font was also used for license plates.

Maximum speed

Road type Vmax

The maximum speed in built-up areas is 50 km/h, although speeds of 40 km/h are also encountered on some roads. A maximum speed of 30 km/h is increasingly being set in residential areas. On many village passages on through roads, the speed limit is 60 km/h.

Outside built-up areas, a standard speed limit of 80 km/h (also on motorways) applies, with the exception of some main roads and motorways where 90 km/h, 100 km/h or 110 km/h applies, this is then indicated by signs. Since 2014, 110 km/h is allowed on some motorways, but only in summer. Buses and cars with a trailer are limited to 80 km/h and cars with a trailer or caravan that are unbraked and weigh more than 300 kg were not allowed to go faster than 60 km/h before 2022, since then also 80 km/h. In November 2014, it was established that new highways will be designed at 110 km/h from that moment on.

History

A speed limit was first introduced in 1912. Until 2000, it was not allowed to drive faster than 90 km/h anywhere, since 2000 it is allowed to drive 100 km/h on motorcycles. It was proposed to increase the speed limit on motorways to 110 km/h, but this was rejected by the ministry in 2008. In 2014, a test was held on the E18 south-west of Oslo with a maximum speed of 110 km/h. Since mid-2014, 110 km/h can be driven on 155 kilometers from the E6 and E18. Since 2015, a distinction has also been made between the summer and winter periods on the 110 routes. In winter, 100 may be driven on those routes.

Year Bubeko Bibeko
1912 35 km/h 15 km/h
1926 35 km/h 25 km/h
1935 60 km/h 35 km/h
1955 70 km/h 40 km/h
1965 80 km/h 50 km/h

Enforcement

In Norway, the speed limit is enforced with fixed speed cameras and section controls. These are always announced in advance with a traffic sign. In 2018 there were 28 section checks and 271 fixed speed cameras. A speed camera is called an automatisk trafikkontroll, abbreviated ATK. A section control is called a stretching mill.

Toll

In Norway, tolls have to be paid on a large number of roads, both on motor vehicles and main roads, but also at bridges and tunnels and at toll cordons around a number of cities. All toll roads are fully electronic. The toll roads in Norway are under public management, there are no privatized toll roads on the public road network. However, private roads may charge tolls / entrance fees.

Car taxes

Geirangervegen (fylkesvei 63) along Djupvatnet.

The fylkesvei 55 over the Sognefjell.

Atlanterhavsveien (fylkesvei 64).

Fuel tax

In Norway there is a fuel tax on petrol (bensinavgiften / veibruksavgiften på bensin) and on diesel (veibruksavgift på autodiesel). Due to these excise duties, the fuel in Norway is one of the most expensive in Europe. Petrol was on average as expensive as in the Netherlands in 2016, diesel is on average about 5 cents more expensive. The petrol tax was introduced in 1933, the diesel excise in 1993 and replaced an older kilometer tax. The CO2 tax was introduced in 1991. In 2015, the CO2 tax on diesel was increased. In 2021, the CO2 taxes will be increased again.

In Norway, two types of excise duty are paid on petrol; namely a fuel tax and CO2 tax. In addition, a VAT of 25% is charged.

Excise duties in 2022:

  • Petrol tax: NOK 4.95/l.
  • diesel excise: 3.52 NOK/l.
  • Petrol CO2 tax: 1.78 NOK/l.
  • diesel CO2 tax: NOK 2.05/l.

The petrol excise in 2016 accounted for a revenue of NOK 5.5 billion, the diesel excise for NOK 10.8 billion. About 65% of the fuel price in Norway is determined by taxes. In 2008 Norway had 1,575,400 petrol cars and 591,900 diesel cars.

Registration Tax

In Norway a registration tax has to be paid for new passenger cars (engangsavgift). This is a complex calculation based on weight, power (KW), NOx and CO2 emissions. For example, a 1,200 kilogram passenger car with a power of 90 kW and a CO2 emission of 130 grams per kilometer costs approximately NOK 223,000 (approximately € 29,500) in registration tax. Electric cars are exempt from these taxes. The registration tax is one of the highest in Europe, yielding NOK 17.7 billion to the Norwegian government in 2016, which is more than fuel taxes.

Due to the high tax on the purchase of new cars, Norway has one of the oldest and least environmentally friendly fleets in Europe. The average age of a passenger car in Norway is 10.5 years compared to 8.3 years on average in the European Union.

In addition, an import tax must be paid on imported vehicles (re-registration gift). The amount of the tax depends on the age of the car. There is also a tax for registering a second-hand car that has not been imported.

Road tax

Car owners in Norway also have to pay an annual road tax, the Trafikkforsikringsavgift (traffic insurance tax), for 2018 this was called the årsavgift for motorvogn (annual motor vehicle tax). This is a fixed tax and is not further broken down by weight, CO2 emissions or power. This tax was first introduced in 1917 and has been collected by the insurance company since 2018. In 2016, the revenue amounted to about NOK 10.7 billion.

The following rates applied in 2018;

  • Passenger cars; 2821 NOK/year
  • diesel passenger cars without a particulate filter; 3290 NOK/year
  • Engines; 1960 NOK/year
  • Electric vehicles; 0 NOK/year

Toll

In Norway you have to pay tolls for many works of art and motorways. There are also toll cordons around larger cities.

Comparison with the Netherlands

Compared to the Netherlands, fuel prices are higher. Petrol is only a few percent more expensive, but diesel is significantly more expensive. The purchase tax on passenger cars is also significantly higher in Norway. However, the road tax is significantly lower, especially for diesel vehicles. In Norway the road tax for a somewhat heavier diesel car is approximately € 1,000 less per year than in the Netherlands. However, in Norway you also have to pay tolls in many places. However, it should be taken into account that Norwegian incomes are significantly higher than in the Netherlands. In 2018, the average gross wage in Norway was NOK 45,610 per month (approximately € 4,700), in the Netherlands it is € 2,825.

Electric cars

Norway is one of the largest markets for electric cars. Some of the best-selling models are electric cars. This is mainly due to the large tax benefits. For example, owners of electric cars do not have to pay purchase tax, no road tax and no tolls, and often there is also free parking. Electric cars are also allowed to use bus lanes. Counts on the E18 near Oslo showed that 85% of the traffic on the bus lanes consists of electric cars. Electric cars are mainly seen around the big cities. The benefits for electric cars have been gradually phased out since 2016, for example electric cars are no longer exempt from toll charges everywhere and on some roads electric cars are only allowed to use the bus lanes if there are at least two people on board. In the past, electric cars were also allowed to use the many ferry services for free, but this has ended on 1 March 2018.

Road safety

An underground roundabout at the Hardanger Bridge.

Year Road fatalities
2010 210
2011 168
2012 145
2013 187
2014 147
2015 117
2016 135
2017 106
2018 108
2019 108
2020 95

Norway is the safest country in Europe, which is somewhat striking given that a relatively small proportion of vehicle kilometers are traveled on motorways, which are considered the safest road type. Many roads have been made safer by lane separations.

In 2012, there were 29 deaths per 1 million inhabitants in Norway. In 2014 there were 151 road deaths, or 29 per 1 million inhabitants and in 2015 there were 118 fatalities, or 24 deaths per 1 million inhabitants. Norway therefore has the safest roads in the world.

Modal split

Passenger transport

Passenger kilometers in 2016.

Modality Part Travelerkm
Car 88.0% 65.00 billion
Track* 6.1% 4.53 billion
Bus 5.9% 4.33 billion

*including tram/metro

freight forwarding

Tonne-kilometres.

Modality Part Tonkm
Truck 32.0% 16.97 billion
ship* 63.5% 33.7 billion
Track 4.5% 2.4 billion

*including domestic shipping

Norway Road Network