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Freight modelling and policy analysis in the UK. John Bates (Independent Consultant). Earlier Work. Despite some early pioneering work by Bayliss & Edwards (1970) 1 , there was limited focus on freight until 1990 Main concerns were: Forecasts of national freight traffic (veh-Km)

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freight modelling and policy analysis in the uk
Freight modelling and policy analysis in the UK
  • John Bates (Independent Consultant)
earlier work
Earlier Work
  • Despite some early pioneering work by Bayliss & Edwards (1970)1, there was limited focus on freight until 1990
  • Main concerns were:
    • Forecasts of national freight traffic (veh-Km)
    • Growth assumptions for local schemes
    • Specific policy issues (eg rail freight)

1 Industrial Demand for Transport, HMSO, London

  • After the publication of the controversial National Road Traffic Forecasts [NRTF] of 1989, largely based on trend extrapolation, more detailed research began
  • Attention was drawn to the importance of changes in length of haul reflecting new logistics, and the variation between commodity sectors
  • The later NRTF (1997) had an improved methodology, involving 15 sectors

Sectoral output & inputs

(Volume & Weight)


Handling factor

Total freight (tonnes lifted)



Modal split

Road freight (tonnes lifted)

Length of haul

Road tonnes kilometres

Vehicle load

Vehicle size

Vehicle use

HGV Traffic (vehicle kilometres)

Overview of HGV Traffic Forecasting Process [NRTF 1997]

Step 1:

Step 2:

3 main models
3 Main Models
  • The main modelling approaches have been:
  • ITS Leeds (LEeds Freight Transport model – LEFT)
  • MDS-Transmodal (Great Britain Freight Model – GBFM)
  • WSP Cambridge – EUNET

These will be briefly discussed later

major dft research
Major DfT Research
  • The SACTRA (1999) report “Transport and the Economy” recommended
    • a thorough review of past work in modelling of freight responses
    • initiation of research to develop sound techniques for modelling goods vehicle responses
    • Development of better procedures for forecasting growth in demand for goods and vehicle movements based on the economics of freight movement and recognising the important aspects of freight logistics.
    • inclusion of LGV movements.
  • Major study led by WSP 2001-2003, reviewed international experience and data
wsp led work
WSP-led work
  • Produced v. ambitious work programme, with a blueprint for a national model, following the general lines of EUNET (spatial input-output model)
  • Given risks of such a programme, DfT took a more cautious approach and asked for some interim recommendations
interim recommendations 2003
Interim Recommendations (2003)
  • Regional Pilot for SIO model
  • Audit of GBFM
  • London pilot of agent-based micro-simulation (“Oregon approach”)
  • Assemble team to advise on development of national model
  • Make improvements to data collection
2003 2006
  • Only first two recommendations carried out (SIO pilot, GBFM audit) – though some data advances (LGVs)
  • Progress review in workshop July 2006, followed by:
    • Development of freight modelling guidance…
    • Refinement of GBFM
    • Using SIO approach to develop base year matrices
    • Ongoing ITS Leeds work
its leeds work left
ITS Leeds work - LEFT
  • Strategic freight forecasting model largely funded by EPSRC with DfT support
  • Latest version (LEFT4) deals with mode choice between rail and road, with 7 commodity types, and 9 distance bands
  • Allows for choice of vehicle type
  • Suggested use: quick estimates of results from cost policies (eg fuel taxation)
  • See: Fowkes A S, Johnson D H and Whiteing A E (2010), Modelling the Effects of Policies to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Freight Traffic in Great Britain
  • Originally developed for Channel Tunnel forecasts and adopted by DfT in 2001- now part of DfT National Transport Model
  • Develops matrix of freight flows from rail data, CSRGT (HGV survey) and trade flows (for international traffic) for 10 commodity groups (NST-based)
  • Allocates between rail and road, and assigns road freight by vehicle type to network
  • Latest version (GBFM5, 2008) uses 2,650 zones (3 digit post code districts) in GB and over 350 zones (countries or regions) overseas.
  • Also used in recent DfT Freight Modal Choice study -
spatial input output sio
Spatial Input-Output (SIO)
  • Originally developed as a demonstration model for the Trans-Pennine area under the EU 4th framework (EUNET project)
  • Extended (2005) as pilot to 2 GB Regions (NW and Y&H)
  • Used to provide national Base Year Freight Matrices [BYFM] for potential use in NTM (2010)
  • BYFM operates at 408 zone level (NUTS4) plus special attractors, with 19 commodity types
a brief assessment
A brief assessment

It could be argued that a successful approach to freight modelling would require the following components:

  • Pattern of base distribution, by commodity
  • Demand model (response to economic and transport changes)
  • Transport supply model
  • Land-use forecasts
  • Technological and productivity changes
a brief assessment 2
A brief assessment (2)
  • On this basis, there is still some way to go
  • GBFM relies heavily on existing O-D pattern of vehicles (eg CSRGT), while BYFM builds up freight volume from industry relations – these need to be reconciled
  • Neither approach is aligned with traffic data (veh-Km)
  • Demand model elements need further development
data issues
Data Issues
  • Rail data – highly specialised. MDS-T have done substantial work here
  • Road HGVs – CSRGT – “lorry survey” (UVAV) diary of trips made by sampled UK-registered vehicles, but no land-use data for trip ends
  • Also separate IHRS for international road freight
  • LGVs (below 3.5t) – only occasional surveys (Company-owned vans: 2003, 2004, and Privately owned vans: 2003)
  • Air and Sea – information from port and airport authorities
  • Plus Trade Statistics
freight policies
Freight Policies
  • The Coalition Government is to introduce an HGV road user charging scheme “to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK hauliers” – scope to be agreed June 2011, and scheme to commence April 2014
  • Otherwise, there is a general aim of encouraging a shift from road to inland waterway, short sea shipping and to rail, as well as keeping in mind the potential of low carbon technologies