The Freight Capacity Model: A tool for exploring the future of road freight and its impact on the Environment

Aerial photograph of road


With the freight task predicted to double in the next 20 years, one reaction is to increase the fleet size to satisfy the increased demand over time. However from any perspective, let alone environmental, this is an unsustainable option. Increases in fleet sizes inevitably results in increased network congestion levels and other externalities. Improved fleet management in conjunction with high-productivity or performance-based standards (PBS) trucks is one possible way to alleviate the stress on the road network and the environment.

With what began as exploratory work and a final year project of Monash University, the American Transport Research Institute (ATRI) commissioned ARRB for the creation of a freight capacity model to address these freight issues. The model integrates several carrier and network metrics including: delay, fuel consumption, distance, air pollution, noise pollution and trip performance. The objective of the model is to act as a decision-support tool by simulating how a change in fleet can potentially impact on the road network and the environment, aiming to improve the management of the freight industry. This paper outlines the issues faced by the freight industry, highlighting the necessity of having a tool such as this. In addition, the approach taken and the methodology for the creation of the model are also discussed. As a result of this model, ATRI has pushed for its further development for national distribution in the United States.


MICHEL, Y. and LUK, J. (2006). The Freight Capacity Model: A tool for exploring the future of road freight and its impact on the Environment. 28th Conference of Australian Institutes of Transport Research (CAITR) Conference 2006, 6-8th December.

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