Network for Transport Measures

5.1 Description of the road transport system

Methods and manuals > 5. Road cargo transport > Wikis > 5.1 Description of the road transport system

Road transport services are carried out throughout the world with vehicles spanning from small distribution vans to long road trains. The loading capacity is either fixed on the vehicle or a swap body that can be transferred to another mode of transport, typically rail or sea. The advantages of road transportation are its flexibility and ability to reach far out to customers and the security of goods as there is always a driver involved.

The size of a shipment can vary between a parcel up to a whole truck load. The limitations are the loading capacity, based on road weight carrying capacity and a maximised size of vehicles, and dependence upon drivers. Furthermore, increasing congestion problems is a drawback in some areas.

Road transport as covered by NTM includes different types of lorries/trucks designed exclusively for cargo transport on public roads. NTM distinguishes between the following transport situations involving road vehicles:

Shared (Integrated) transport systems

A network of different vehicles and terminals engaged in the transport of the cargo. The idea is to obtain high capacity utilisation by integrating several shipments, this at the expense of higher transit time and longer actual transported distance. It is often transport services with re-loadings at integrating terminals. This often includes less than truck load and parcel and mail distribution.


Dedicated (Direct) transport – single shipment

The transport is carried out once by a vehicle travelling directly from the shipper to the consignee. Positioning before and after the transport will decrease the total capacity utilisation. This often includes a truck load.


Dedicated (Direct) transport – frequent shipments

The transport is carried out repeatedly by a vehicle travelling back and forth between the shipper to the consignee. If the vehicle is specially adapted to the cargo, the vehicle is often used as a shuttle, i.e. returned empty. Trucks with normal cargo hold structures might carry goods on the return trip. This often includes a truck load.


NTM data excludes at present other types of road transports such as cargo transported by long distance buses, vehicles designed for special purpose transport services (heavy, wide or long cargo) or trailers pulled by farm tractors, military equipment or construction machinery.