Release Date:
Release ID: 522

Annual Publication : Road Freight Statistics 2005

The Department for Transport has today published National Statistics on the activity of heavy goods vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes gross weight) during 2005, including foreign vehicle activity in the UK, and the domestic activity of company vans during the period 2003-2005.

Press Release

Key findings include

The domestic activity of GB-registered goods vehicles

Freight moved by GB-registered heavy goods vehicles within Great Britain increased by 0.3 per cent between 2004 and 2005, from 152.2 billion tonne kilometres to 152.7 billion tonne kilometres.

The 6 per cent increase between 1995 and 2005 in total freight moved was less than the rise in Gross Domestic Product over the same period (32 per cent).

Articulated vehicles over 33 tonnes gross weight continue to account for an increasing share of all goods moved: 72 per cent of total tonne kilometres in 2005, compared with 63 per cent in 1995.

The amount of freight lifted in 2005 (1746 tonnes) was little changed from that in 2004 (1744 tonnes), but was 6 per cent more than in 2003 and 9 per cent above that in 1995.

There has been a long term increase in overall average length of haul, from 68 kilometres in 1980 to 87 kilometres in 2005, although there has been relatively little change since 1995.

Just over half of all goods (53 per cent) are moved 50 kilometres or less.

The international activity of UK-registered goods vehicles

The total number of vehicles of all nationalities travelling to mainland Europe in 2005 was 2,777 thousand, one per cent more than in 2004 and 71 per cent more than in 1995. Powered vehicles accounted for 2,021 thousand of this total, an increase of three per cent since 2004 and 113 per cent since 1995. The remaining vehicles are unaccompanied trailers. 756 thousand travelled to mainland Europe in 2005, a 3 per cent fall from 2004 and a 12 per cent increase since 1995.

517 thousand of these powered vehicles were registered in the United Kingdom, five per cent more than in 2004 and six per cent more than in 1995. UK registered vehicles accounted for 26 per cent of all powered vehicles in 2005, compared with 25 per cent in 2004 and 51 per cent in 1995.

The majority of powered vehicles use the Dover Straits. This group accounted for 84 per in 2005 compared with 70 per cent in 1990.

In 2005, UK-registered vehicles carried 6.3 million tonnes of goods out of the UK, the same amount as in 2004, and 5 per cent less than in 1995; and 8.1 million tonnes of goods into the UK, 5 per cent more than in 2004, and 16 per cent more than in 1995.

In 2005, 5.3 tonne kms were moved out of the by UK-registered vehicles, a decrease of 7 per compared with 2004 and 27 per cent compared with 1995; and 6.1 tonne kms were moved into the UK, a decrease of 4 per cent compared with 2004 and 14 per cent compared with 1995.

The activity of foreign-registered goods vehicles in Great Britain

1,472 thousand foreign registered powered vehicles travelled from Great Britain to mainland Europe in 2005, two per cent more than in 2004 and more than three times (plus 219 per cent) the number in 1995. French lorries (361 thousand) continue to be the most frequent visitors, followed by those registered in the Netherlands (253 thousand) and Germany (168 thousand).

The majority of foreign vehicles use the Dover straits. This group accounted for 86 per in 2005 compared with 75 per cent in 1990.

The number of vehicles from the New Member States (those countries joining the EU in May 2004) increased by 62 per cent between 2004 and 2005. The majority of these were from Poland (55 thousand), the Czech Republic (41 thousand) and Hungary (38 thousand).


The activity of GB-registered vans in Great Britain

(Annual average 2003 - 2005)

A third (34 per cent) of the distance travelled by company vans was in connection with the collection or delivery of goods, a third (32 per cent) was performed between home and work, and a fifth (21 per cent) when vans were travelling between jobs.

The peak periods for travel during the week were between 7am and 9am, and between 4pm and 6pm, when around 30 per cent of vans were in use.

At weekends, no more than 4% of vans were in use during any one hour period.

The construction industry accounted for around a third (31 per cent) of vehicle kilometres and the wholesale and retail trade a fifth (20 per cent).

The transport of tools, machinery and equipment accounted for nearly a half (45 per cent) of all travel.

Vans were empty for 15 per cent of total distance travelled.

Five sixths (84 per cent) of distance travelled was for journeys that started and ended in the same Government Office Region.

Fourteen per cent of distance was travelled with vans over three quarter full, and 38 per cent with vans less than one quarter full.

Goods vehicle operators

The number of goods vehicle operators fell from 122 thousand in 1994/95 to 102 thousand in 2004/05. However, the size of fleets has increased steadily, from an average of 3.3 vehicles to 3.9 vehicles over the same period.


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