Research Output

The effect of unitised freight flows and logistics strategies on Scotland’s external trade.

  This paper analyses unitised freight flows in Scotland, the reasons behind the current modal split and likely future developments. The impacts of these findings on logistics strategies for Scottish shippers are then considered in the context of the penalty of peripherality for Scottish trade.
The work begins with a presentation of unitised flows by sea, rail and road and identifies the causes of current transport chains. Specific attention is given to the role of RoRo in UK freight transport, which accounts for a higher share of unitised trade than containers. A leakage index is developed, illustrating how much maritime traffic is lost to Scotland, based on measures of population and GDP.
A number of issues for Scottish shippers are identified. The added cost of repositioning, shortages of boxes caused by lines holding minimal stock in Scotland and the unavailability of correct equipment. Choice of transport provider and appropriate frequency of feeder services are also restricted. The logistics strategies of large retailers are therefore of increasing importance to Scotland’s trade imbalances, particularly in relation to their use of RDCs in England. This has the effect of reducing direct maritime imports to Scotland which exacerbates the container imbalance as well as making modal shift away from road transport less feasible

  • Date:

    30 November 2009

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    European Transport Conference

  • Library of Congress:

    HE Transportation and Communications

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    388 Transportation; ground transportation


Baird, A., Monios, J., Wilmsmeier, G. & Mathie, I. (2009). The effect of unitised freight flows and logistics strategies on Scotland’s external trade. In Proceedings of the European Transport Conference



Freight flows; shipping; Scotland; transport chains; unitised trade; containers; maritime traffic;

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