A cost and CO2 comparison of using trains and higher capacity trucks when UK FMCG companies collaborate

Andrew Palmer, Philip Mortimer, Philip Greening, Maja Piecyk, Pratyush Dadhich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Companies working in a collaboration are able to achieve higher vehicle capacity utilisation and reduced empty running, resulting in lower costs and improved sustainability through reduced emissions and congestion. Collaboration produces higher volumes of goods to be moved than individual companies which means that further efficiencies may be possible by relaxing the freight mode constraints and considering rail and higher capacity vehicles. This paper explains how real world data has been used in a model to quantify the economic and environmental benefits in the FMCG sector delivered through collaboration utilising road and rail freight modes. Data for one month was provided by 10 FMCG companies and included freight transport flows between depots and customers, inter depot movements, and supplier collections. Detailed road and rail costs and operating characteristics were obtained and, with the transport flows, applied to a network design model which was used to validate the company data sets. A strategy examining the potential use of alternative higher capacity vehicles and rail for the flows between nine regional consolidation centres showed cost and CO2 savings. Just under half the inter-regional flows benefited from double deck trailers, longer heavier vehicles for 30% of the flows and rail with different wagon configurations for the rest. In summary there was a 23% reduction in cost with 58% fewer road kilometres and a 46% reduction in CO2 emissions. The ability to backhaul the same mode of transport between most of the regional centres was one of the strengths of this strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-107
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Early online date23 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


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