UK Freight Modelling - the Ways Ahead

UK Freight Modelling - the Ways Ahead


M Shahkarami, Department for Transport; Neil Raha, WSP, UK



The amount of goods transported is a function of economic activity and is linked to economic prosperity and growth. Increasing the cost of freight movements has a significant negative impact on industry, so it is important that operators, government and network managers work together to optimisethe movement of goods.

However, much less effort has traditionally been devoted to freight forecasting than to passenger demand modelling. Factors responsible for this include the lack of sufficiently comprehensive conceptual models of the freight industry and a paucity of suitable data. For this reason, models have usually involved gathering data only on vehicle movement, creating observed traffic flow matrices and then using growth factors for future projections. The results have been unsatisfactory because the vehicle trip volumes show little correlation with land use data. In addition the matrices are usually poor, having little or no behavioural basis, and with no sensitivity for tests of policy issues or forecasting variables.

The aim of this paper is to report on potential ways ahead for freight modelling and assessing which techniques would be most suited in Great Britain. It is based on the findings of a research project that the Department has commissioned to review current freight modelling methods including those used in other countries. The review covers road freight and other modes as well as modelling light goods vehicles. It also looks at data requirements and the applicability of the different approaches at different levels of geographical scale (from strategic National level to small scheme) and the need to address appropriate policy questions at each level.


Association for European Transport