The first part of the National Freight Demands Study's Executive Summary gives an overview about the current freight task.

Part two >>

Replacement of the National Freight Demands Study

At the time the study was done it provided an accurate picture of freight movements in New Zealand. However, the study uses base freight movements as they were in 2006/07. Since then the global financial crisis, the Canterbury earthquakes, and changes in supply chains have impacted on freight demand, and the freight projections may be too optimistic in the shorter term. To address this the Ministry will be updating the National Freight Demands Study in 2013.

The importance of the freight sector

The movement of freight plays a vital role in sustaining and supporting economic development and contributes to the high quality of life experienced by New Zealanders.  The freight sector is an essential component of export industries, linking areas of production to the ports where goods are sent overseas and its costs form a component of the overall costs of supplying world markets. An efficient freight industry can provide cost-effective forms of transport improving the overall competitiveness of New Zealand exports.

The freight sector also supports a wide range of domestic activities including:

  • linking suppliers of raw materials with the industries that use or process their goods
  • transporting semi-finished components within the manufacturing sector
  • distributing finished products to consumers, including deliveries to the full range of retail outlets
  • supporting household activities through for example the transport of waste, household deliveries and removal services

The movement of freight touches almost all sectors of the economy and household activities and a loss of efficiency for the freight sector can have widespread impacts. In addition the freight sector is a significant consumer of energy resources, accounting for about 43 percent of the energy consumed by the transport sector and a similar proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. In support of its sustainability objectives, the government has set targets for the freight sector seeking to increase the modal shares for rail and coastal shipping in order to reduce the freight sector’s energy use and emissions.

The information available on the overall patterns of movements and activities of the freight sector is however very limited. This constrains the efficient use of resources by those providing infrastructure and services and also restricts the government’s ability to plan for and manage the sector.

The government recognises the importance of the freight sector and the desire to improve its efficiency and achieve significant changes in modal shares.  The National Freight Demand Study was therefore commissioned in early 2008 by the Ministry of Transport (MoT), the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) and Land Transport New Zealand (now the NZ Transport Agency) to look at the current operations of the sector and its future development.  The study was undertaken to overcome the limited amount of data on the sector and provide a sound basis for future policies.

This work is set out in the main report of this study.

This study combined interviews and surveys of many of the key participants within the sector with a detailed review of published and unpublished information.

The total current freight task

The current freight task in terms of tonnes and tonne-kms is summarised in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The current freight task by mode

 
Fig 1. The current freight task
source: NFDS

Activity in the sector is dominated by the movement of goods by road, although when the length of haul is taken into account in the tonne-km figures on the right, the role of rail and coastal shipping is enhanced with these having a higher share of longer distance movements.

Approach to the study

In order to examine the freight task in detail, 17 key commodities were identified and separate investigations were undertaken for each of these.

The approach used for the examination of the identified commodities was based on discussions with and collection of information from with a large number of key participants within the freight sector.  The information gained from these discussions and interviews was combined with analyses of available statistical material to build up a comprehensive picture of the activities undertaken within the sector.

The steps involved for each commodity were to:

  • identify the total size of the market and if possible the regional distribution of activities
  • determine the linkages between the areas where goods are produced or imported and those where they are consumed or exported.

The movements for each commodity were then combined and compared with the outline information on total estimated freight flows. An adjustment factor was then determined for movements as a whole and used to estimate total flows by road.  These were compared with observed traffic counts to confirm the robustness of the overall findings from the study as well as the detailed analyses.  It is estimated that the detailed analyses cover about two-thirds of the total activity within the freight sector.

The freight task in detail

The individual commodity flows are set out in Table E1 and summarised in Figure E2.

 

Table E1. Movements for selected commodities
Selected Commodity Group

Tonnes Lifted (millions)

Tonne-kms transported (billions) 

Milk and dairy products 

21.0

1.9

Logs and wood products

30.3

3.8

Livestock and meat

4.5

0.6

Horticulture

4.2

1.1

Aggregate

40.2

2.3

Coal

6.4

1.3

Petroleum

9.0

2.2

Limestone, fertiliser, cement and concrete

18.8

1.6

Other metals and minerals

3.9

0.5

Retail and couriers

14.5

2.9

 Total

152.7

18.0 

Figure E2. Movements of Key Commodities 2006/07

Figure E2. Movements of key commodities 2006/07

Total movements in terms of tonnages are dominated by aggregates, logs and wood products and by dairy products, which combined are estimated to account for about 60 percent of the total movements identified.

While the tonne-km summary shows broadly similar patterns to that for the tonnes lifted, the share of aggregates is much smaller, reflecting the shorter distances travelled for this low value product.  The share for retail and couriers is much higher reflecting their nationwide distribution patterns.

The patterns of movements for the selected commodities are set out in Table E2.

Table E2. Patterns of movements for selected commodities 2006-07 (million tonnes)
 Northland /
Auckland
Waikato /
Bay of Plenty
Gisborne /
Hawke’s Bay
Taranaki /
Manawatu-Wanganui /
Wellington
Tasman /
Nelson /
Marlborough /
West Coast
CanterburyOtago /
Southland
Total
Northland/Auckland 33.3 3.5 0.5 1.6 0.4 0.9 0.7 40.7
Waikato/Bay of Plenty 7.1 32.6 0.8 1.5 0.0 0.1 0.0 42.2
Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay 0.2 0.3 7.0 0.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 8.4
Taranaki/Manawatu-Wanganui/Wellington 0.3 0.7 0.4 17.4 0.0 0.2 0.0 19.1
Tasman/Nelson/ Marlborough/West Coast 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.3 8.1 3.7 0.2 12.4
Canterbury 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.5 0.5 15.0 1.1 17.5
Otago/Southland 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 11.6 12.5
Total 41.3 37.2 8.7 22.2 9.0 20.6 13.6 152.7

The flows are dominated by the shorter distance movements within the areas identified, although there are significant volumes of longer distance traffic.

Movements by mode

Three main modes are involved in the movement of goods within New Zealand, road, rail and coastal shipping.  The estimated shares for each of these for selected commodities set out in Table E3.

Table E3. Mode share for selected commodities
Commodity

Total Volume (000 tonnes)

Share by mode (%)

Road

Rail

Coastal Shipping
Liquid milk

17,145

96%

4%

 

Dairy products

3,816

59%

41%

 

Logs and chips

21,600

94%

6%

 

Manufactured timber products

8,750

97%

3%

 

Livestock (all by road)

3,624

100%

 

 

Meat

889

57%

43%

 

Horticultural products

4,192

93%

7%

 

 Aggregate

40,188

99%

 

1%

Coal

6,399

36%

64%

 

Petroleum products

9,020

75%

 

25%

 Aluminium and steel

1,853

80%

20%

 

Limestone, fertiliser, cement and other minerals

12,187

88%

2%

10%

Concrete (all by road)

8,949

100%

 

 

Modal shares vary significantly by commodity, with rail having a relatively high share of coal, dairy products and meat. Coastal shipping carries significant volumes of petroleum and cement.


Part two >>