Road Transport vs Train

In a perfect world you would imagine that most of our long distance moving services and future planning would involve the national rail networks. After all, the reduction in carbon emissions and cost by rail are considered significant, in comparison to road transport.

However, a recent Freight Demand Study showed that over 70% of New Zealand’s freight demand is transported by road. This pre-eminence of road transport is purely a logistical reality, rather than a philosophical crossroads. The fact is that rail will never be the mode of choice for the majority for time-sensitive inland freight movements.

Sustainable Future

For our long distance and inter-city transportation
NZ Van Lines has invested in a sustainable future that is built on trucks rather than trains. Our reasoning can be summarised as follows;

1. Economic

Without considerable investment the national rail transport network doesn’t have the capacity to meet the needs of ourselves or our customers. While there are opportunities being developed to build on the interface between road and rail, there are huge gaps in the geographical coverage of the rail network.

There are major business continuity risks associated with any national transport operator committing to the existing rail network. These risks were exposed by the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. One single event effectively destroyed the countries inter-island rail link for 18 months, over 180 kms of rail line needed replacing. During this period there was effectively no rail link for removalists between the North and South Island’s.

In the transport industry it’s the first and last mile that is the most difficult and expensive part of the journey. This is where trans-shipping increases the journey time, carbon emissions and transport costs to consumers. For a household goods move by rail there are several container lifts and often multiple truck journeys before a customer’s effects can either arrive at the railhead or be delivered at their destination. Sometimes the first or last mile of the journey can be several hundred miles, depending on proximity to the nearest rail terminal.

Since 2020 the Covid-19 disruption to global supply chains and an upswing in domestic consumption have created a flow on effect, causing significant capacity issues for the rail network. For example, shipping companies are relying on rail when they position or offload containers at the most convenient port.

2. Customer Success

There is no denying that rail plays a significant role in the movement of bulk commodity products over long distances. The journeys are not time sensitive and can often be routed directly to ports or end users.

However, it goes without saying that NZ Van Lines are not transporting bulk cargo. Our customers have an expectation that we will move their household goods and personal effects in a safe, timely and cost-effective manner. Our linehaul service is designed to get customers where they need to be, when they need to be there.

A well-planned truck journey will go directly from door to door, saving non- productive tasks, carbon emissions and the additional kms being travelled. One of the benefits of our linehaul trucking operation is that whenever possible the same driver who picks up a shipment will be the driver who delivers it. We can accommodate up to three standard households into one of our super-sized furniture trailers. The bigger the move, the more personalised and cost effective the service.

By having a ‘one truck-one driver’ journey there is also a significant reduction in the possibility of damages through shunting, container handling, trans-shipping, double handling, and poor stowing. Our drivers are experts at handling and stowing furniture and fragile items. Given the known stressors associated with moving house there’s no doubt that the continuity of having ‘one driver’ provides comfort and ‘peace of mind’ to our customers.

3. The Environment

With global warming and ‘carbon zero’ targets being at the heart of public debates on environmental sustainability the merits of road transport versus rail is a vigorous one.

For our business to be truly sustainable we understand the need for a long-term environmental strategy. In 2021 we initiated an on-going fleet replacement programme by purchasing 25 new clean burning long-distance trucks. The new ‘state of the art’ truck engines meet EURO 6 environmental regulations. EURO 6 technology has a rigorous focus on environmental conservation, effectiveness, and performance. It significantly reduces harmful gas emissions within the trucks exhaust system.

Annually our removals group receive over 5000 twenty-foot containers from overseas. Once cleared through MPI and customs these units are delivered to every corner of New Zealand. We have invested in three B train container trailers, primarily to deliver these units. This has increased our capacity from two to three containers per trailer, reducing emissions by over 30% per truck journey.

Looking to the future we are closely monitoring recent overseas trends towards hydrogen powered trucks. Hydrogen can supplement and improve the emissions efficiency of combustion engines or 100% drive an electric engine. Interestingly, the development of green hydrogen technology is slow due to its current reliance on fossil fuels, to meet production requirements.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about NZ Van Lines and better understand our commitment to a sustainable future. If you are planning to move either inter-city, inter-island, or overseas please don’t hesitate to contact us for an obligation free quotation. We look forward to hearing from you soon and to being of service. Call us on: 0800 362 236 or submit a quote form online.

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