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Freight transport system is becoming less sustainable. This is because it has increased in volume and become more intricate, coupled by environmental and societal concerns as well.
The increased demand for raw materials and finished products and the need to move some of them over long distances has in turn strained the transport system and increased environmental pollution due to the large amounts of energy emitted.
There is need to develop freight transport network system to match the needs. However, it should be recognized that freight logistics are complicated and they demand interventions of equal measure.
Freight transportation can be looked at in terms of supply chains and the logistic factors that make up the shipping strategies. In freight logistics, the government’s scope is mostly restricted to regulatory functions, with most temporary decisions being made by the private stakeholders. For decisions considered to be long-term, the public plays some roles such as transport system layout, development, and how it works.
The roles of the public depend on the society in question, transport means, and type of product. While planning and developing infrastructure, the government ought to consider the high volume of freight movement and be able to develop strategies to counter the negative effects that arise like pollution, truck traffic congestion, and increased truck accidents among others (Schiller, Brun & Kenworthy, 2010).
Freight movements formed the determinant in the location and growth of cities. These cities evolved depending on the mechanism of transport and type of goods being transported. Growth of a city is associated with industrialization and population increase.
As such, the demand for raw materials and goods also increased. However, with the advances in technology transport expenses considerably dropped resulting to increased freight transportation (Schiller, Brun & Kenworthy, 2010).
Factors shaping freight movement
The efficiency of freight movement depends on three factors. These are; supply chains, logistical systems, and shipping strategies. In supply chain the raw materials are brought in and taken out at different avenues. Different means of transport are employed in delivering the products to the consumer; while at the same time the products can be stored in different warehouses along the chain.
Shipping strategies include consideration of the quantity and type of raw materials and products to be transported, the area to be traversed, the transport systems available, the cost of shipping for the different systems, and various policies in place among other factors.
The logistical systems integrate the various decisions made based on supply chain and shipping strategies to come up with conclusions about the business and prices (Schiller, Brun & Kenworthy, 2010).
The logistical system considers the freight transportation system and the means available. All the freight systems such as roads, rail lines, and inland water ways like canals, sea ports, and pipelines should be analyzed in detail.
Road expansion has increased truck freight as opposed to train freight which is not flexible. Developing countries should embrace technologies like internet to decrease dependence on airfreight, while focusing on infrastructure development into the interiors. Logistical systems should be implemented to connect supply chains so as to minimize the production costs while ensuring on time deliveries.
Freight sustainability should be increased by ensuring that the efficiency of freight vehicles is maximized, the vehicles are specialized to their purpose, undertaking changes in ocean shipping, reverse logistics, and shortening of supply chains.
In ocean shipping, stiff competition resulted into creation of large sized cargo ships for maximization of profit. This in turn compromised safety standards and environmental concerns were disregarded as the engines run on poor quality diesel. The changes can be used to enforce usage of high quality fuels.
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Schiller, P. L., Brun, E. & Kenworthy, J. R. (2010). An introduction to sustainable transportation: Policy, planning and implementation. London, UK: Earthscan.