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Optimising transport modes

Explore the alternative transport modes available and reduce road miles

  • Assess the use of alternative transport modes and their viability
  • See how retailers, manufacturers and logistics providers are using alternative modes and non-standard road vehicles 
  • Identify the best solution for you

Guide overview

About this article

Why consider alternative modes and non-standard trailer types?

Every mode of transport be it road, rail, inland waterways, short sea shipping or air freight has its own advantages and limitations. In developing their distribution strategy, companies choose to use the mode that provides them with the best solution for the market and environment in which they operate. With the increasing concern for the environment, higher levels of road congestion and rising fuel prices, the boundaries between which mode provides the best economic and environmental solution are changing.

Road transport continues to dominate freight movements in the UK, being responsible for around 83% of goods moved (tonnes lifted) with HGVs responsible for around 20% of UK domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As one of biggest users of road transport, the food and grocery industry has a responsibility to manage its impact on the environment and increasingly we are seeing companies including alternate road vehicles and transport modes in their transport operations.

This online resource has been created by the ECR UK Transport Modes Workgroup to provide a practical, end user based, support guide which enables users to gain an understanding of the alternate modes of transport and non-standard road transport options.


1. About this output
This section outlines why this guide was produced and how it can help your business as well as who was involved in its production.

2. Mode options
An explanation of the four modes most appropriate to the food and grocery industry; road, rail, air and water.

3. Mode choice decision tree
An Excel-based tool designed to help users identify how appropriate different transport modes are to their business.

4. Case studies
Over 30 case studies from retailers, manufacturers and logistics providers that provide insight into the modal solutions chosen by others in the food and grocery industry.

5. Glossary of terms
Make sense of the plethora of acronyms and terms commonly used within transport and logistics with this handy glossary.

6. Further links and information
Links to other sources of information that will help understand in more detail this complex topic.

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This online guide has been created by ECR UK.

Online guide to Optimising Load Fill

Here is our latest online guide to help companies impact the environment less and reduce costs by increasing load fill. It will help you make deliveries more efficient, show you best practice examples from across the industry, and guide you to the most appropriate load fill solution for your business.