The Effect of Dematerialisation on Freight Transport Demand



The Effect of Dematerialisation on Freight Transport Demand

Authors

J Francke, KIM Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis, NL

Description

In this paper the results of an analysis into the influence of dematerialisation of economic production on the demand for freight transport will be presented for the Netherlands.

Abstract

The demand for freight transport is often referred to as a derived demand. The development of economic production and consumption of goods determines the development of freight transport. This often illustrated with a macro elasticity of freight transport demand against gross domestic product. In this paper the results of an analysis into the influence of dematerialisation of economic production on the demand for freight transport will be presented for the Netherlands.

The past developments in freight transport will be explained using a macro analysis approach used for studying decoupling economic activity from externalities caused by freight transport. Examples of these ?decoupling studies? can be found in ?REDEFINE? (NEI et al.,1999); ?Managing the fundamental drivers of Transport demand? (OECD, 2002), ?A Review of some critical assumptions in the relationship between economic activity and freight transport? (Fosgerau & Kveiborg, 2004) and ?The Decoupling of Road Freight Transport and Economic Growth Trends in the UK: An Exploratory Analysis? (McKinnon, 2006).

The results for the Netherlands show that in the last 10 years inland freight transport (measured in tonne kilometres on national territory) has grown with the nearly same percentage as the GDP, +26%. The average transport distance on national territory increased slightly with 4% between 1995 and 2005 to 100 kilometres. The Netherlands is a relative small country and more than 50% of the inland transport performance (road, rail, inland shipping and pipelines) on national territory refers to border crossing freight transport.
The major increase in average transport distance however is observed in a shift towards intercontinental transport resulting in high growth figures for freight transport by sea and air.
The value of Dutch imports and exports in constant prices increased with a yearly average of 6,9% and 6,5%. However due to an increase in the value density of imported and exported products the growth in tonnes of imports and exports is limited to a yearly average of 3%.

In the long term scenario?s until 2040 for freight mobility in the Netherlands is expected that value density will increase due to dematerialisation and upgrading of production. The strategic freight transport model (SMILE+) applied in this long-term scenario study uses an input-output structure, which doesn?t allow for changes in the production structure. The paper describes the way in which this problem is solved and the effect on the future freight flows.

Publisher

Association for European Transport