The Value of Freight

The National Infrastructure Commission asked Vivid Economics to identify regulatory and investment priorities for Government to maximise the long-run value of the UK freight system. This work involved four key stages.

First, we assessed the efficiency of the freight system. This involved developing a set of indicators of efficiency covering the four key dimensions of efficiency in the NIC’s definition: speed and reliability, cost, environmental impact and resilience; and assessing the efficiency of the UK freight system relative to other countries. Second, we assessed the drivers of efficiency in the UK freight system. This involved identifying the drivers of efficiency (for example, the spatial and modal organisation of the freight system); developing a further set of indicators covering the key drivers; and assessing the extent to which drivers in the UK contributed freight efficiency relative to other countries. Third, we identified the technologies likely to drive a step change in freight efficiency. This involved a literature review of emerging technologies (drones, 3D printing, alternative fuelled vehicles, connected and autonomous vehicles, digitalisation and artificial intelligence) and assessing the potential impact of these technologies on the freight system. Finally, we identified the causal mechanisms by which an improvement in freight efficiency could result in an increase in economic output, and estimated the magnitude and likelihood of that increase. Based on this analysis we identified a set of regulatory interventions and investments to likely to deliver the greatest economic benefits.

Date: April 2019


National Infrastructure Commission


Transport & Logistics


Net Zero Transitions
Sustainable development
Technology & Innovation