Keeping Britain’s Businesses Moving


There are a number of options available for the multitude of UK businesses that require transport to move their goods. These options include sea, road, air and rail. A thriving economy requires all of these options to work smoothly, reliably and within affordable budgets. As eCommerce in particular grows, more and more UK firms require more and more transport options…

Moving items by sea

Goods are transported around the world by many different ships including:

  • Container ships, where goods are stacked in similarly sized containers
  • General cargo ships, with cargo that can be loosely packaged
  • Tankers to carry bulk liquids (e.g. oil)
  • Roll-on/roll-off vessels carrying both passenger and road haulage vehicles
  • Bulk carriers carrying unpackaged goods such as large volumes of coal, fertilisers, and ore

There are many varieties of direct liner services that can take goods from the UK to other countries as well as many different routes.

Moving items by road

There are a number of different vehicles used for road haulage in the United Kingdom. The maximum vehicle weight in the UK is generally 44 tonnes gross, with as many as six sets of axles permitted, with the maximum individual length of a truck being 12 metres. Road trains can extend up to 18.75 metres and the length of an articulated truck and trailer can reach 16.5 metres, with a uniform maximum width of 2.55 metres. Articulated lorries are the primary form of road transport for goods and come with different kinds of trailers including:

  • Flatbed trailers, which can be used for nearly any cargo, though goods require protection from the elements and theft
  • Curtain-siders, a mainstay of road transport
  • Road trains, rigid vehicles that pull the trailer behind them
  • Low-loaders that are frequently used to transport outsized goods like heavy machinery

Vans are also often used to move smaller cargoes for shorter distances, and the commercial van industry, as well as the used commercial van industry, is booming within the United Kingdom.

Moving items by air

There are many interdependent commercial organisations within the air freight industry including airlines, freight forwarders, customs brokers and express carriers. Air freight is, perhaps unsurprisingly, considerably more expensive than the great majority of other forms of goods transportation, though the good news is that the transit time of door to door deliveries can be minimised, and sometimes made more cost effective than other methods.

There are different freight rates offered by different airlines, so it is up to you to choose the one that best serves your particular business. The cost of air freight is determined per kilogram, either volumetric or weight depending on which is the greatest, and goods can be carried by passenger aircraft in addition to airlines that only transport cargo. Other expenses that need to be taken into consideration beyond freight rates include airline terminal handling fees, duty and VAT.

Moving items by rail

Rail is responsible for the transportation of around a hundred million tonnes of goods per annum, with demand only set to increase further. Rail can also be considerably cheaper than other transport methods, especially over long distances and can also save on time while being extremely reliable. However, rail services are not particularly conducive to small consignments and take time to arrange.

Keeping UK businesses moving is literally a full-time job – for thousands of people in a variety of different sectors.


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