ABS Release New Study on Road Freight Movement

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released a statistical update on the movement of freight by road across Australia for the first time in 11 years. The Road Freight Movement Survey provides estimates from the 12 months to the 31st of October 2014 about the size and characteristics of the road freight task throughout the nation for rigid and articulated trucks. The information is designed to assist decision makers in the development of transport policies.

National Figures

In total there was an estimated 2,132 million tonnes of freight moved throughout Australian roads with 195,619 million tonne-kilometres been undertaken.

New South Wales dominates the nation in freight movement. The state saw the highest amount of total-tonne kilometres travelled on roads by articulated and rigid trucks originating in a state – 50,632 million tonne kilometres (25.9% of the national total).

Of total tonne-kilometres travelled, 87.3% of freight was destined for either New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. 

General Freight was the type of freight that accounted for the most tonne-kilometres throughout Australia (43,759 million). This was followed by Food (30,544 million) and Sand, Stone and Gravel (18,614 million).

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South Australia Figures

South Australia was responsible for 7.2% of all freight (measured in tonnes) carried throughout Australia (153,024,400 tonnes out of the national 2,131,703,800 tonnes). Out of this 153 million – 142,063,700 tonnes was estimated to have been entirely carried within the South Australian road network.

South Australia was responsible for 8.8% of the nation’s total freight tonne-kilometres (17.2 billion out of 195.6 billion tonne kms).

Victoria is South Australia’s largest trading partner in relation to road transport for both incoming and outgoing freight. In total South Australia exported 7.2 million tonnes of goods to Victoria and imported 6.2 million tonnes of freight originating in Victoria. In total South Australia imported 9.5 million tonnes of freight by road originating in other states and exported 10.9 million tonnes of road freight to other states which originated from within South Australia.

In terms of the trucks used to carry this freight – 15.4% of articulated trucks (whose journey originated in South Australia) were first purchased in 1998 or earlier. This figure rises to 16.3% for rigid trucks.

While information exists from the last survey 11 years ago to see how the flow of freight may have changed or how the total amount of freight carried may have differed, the ABS note that they have since changed their methodology for estimating the freight carry and advice those interested not to directly compare the figures from the two surveys.


More information on the Road Freight Movement Survey can be found at http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/9223.0.