Rail vs Road - Transporting Freight

Rail Road Transport - Everything you need to know

Rail Freight transports your goods to where they need to go by using the cross-country rail network. It’s the more environmentally friendly freight choice when compared with road, and is perfect for when you need to transport larger shipments across a long distance.

The Australian rail network transports half of Australia’s freight, but only produces 4% of our transport emissions.

Some of the reasons you might opt for Rail Freight for your business include:

Less carbon emissions

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to customers, and rail freight is a much more environmentally friendly freight solution.

Trains can transport larger shipments across great distances which means they use less fuel per tonne of cargo, and have a significantly lower carbon footprint than sending freight by road.

If your business is prioritising carbon reduction, then rail freight will help you to achieve that.

Cost effective for long distances

Rail freight is great for sending goods across long distances, particularly if you’re sending large consignments.

Because they have a larger capacity than trucks, you’ll be able to send more freight in a single trip, giving you an increased efficiency, which can result in cost savings when compared with Road Freight for long-haul journeys.

Faster delivery (if there are facilities in place)

Because they’re less impacted by traffic congestion, sending freight by train can give you a faster delivery turnaround time if the right facilities are in place at your point of origin and your destination to move your goods both onto and off the rail network.

It is important to remember though, that delays can and do occur on the rail network. Over the last few years in Australia, we’ve seen floods, bushfires and derailments all have an impact on the efficiency of the rail network.

Having a backup plan in place is critical, so you can get your freight moving again in case of a derailment or other disruption to a rail route.

Road Transport - Everything you need to know

If you need to get your freight moving quickly, then generally, Road Freight is the best choice. Because it’s more efficient, your goods will get there fast, but Road Freight also costs more and generates higher carbon emissions.

Some of the reasons Road Freight might be a good choice for your business are:

More Freedom from Door to Door

One of the significant advantages of Road Freight is its unrivalled flexibility and accessibility. Trucks can access almost any location, including remote areas and regional towns, which means it’s the perfect choice for businesses who deliver all over Australia.

It also gives you the freedom of door-to-door service. In lots of cases, when you ship pallets of goods from one warehouse to another, Road Freight will eliminate the need for additional handling or transfers.


If you’ve got special requirements or smaller scale shipments, then Road Freight is a great option.

Trucks allow for more customisation when it comes to shipping things like perishable goods, dangerous goods and fragile items.

Cost effective (and quicker) over short distances

For shorter routes and smaller shipments, Road Freight is both a faster and more economical choice for your freight. If you need it to get there in a hurry, road is often the best choice, though it does come with the downside of creating a larger carbon footprint.

What to consider when deciding on transport methods?

When you’re choosing between Road and Rail Freight, it’s important to consider which option is going to align best with your business and the type of goods you’re moving through the freight network.

Before you choose, make sure you think about:

How much freight do you have?

Freight volume plays a big role when choosing the right freight option.

Are you shipping large quantities of items or smaller quantities? Are you shipping your goods on pallets or in cartons? And how frequently will you be sending the goods?

If you have smaller freight volumes or irregular shipments, then Road Freight will likely be more cost-effective and efficient. But if you ship things in bulk, Rail Freight will give you more cost efficiency because it can ship more freight, longer distances for less.

How far does the freight need to go?

For long distances, and city-to-city delivery of large shipments, it’s hard to beat Rail Freight.

But if you’re only going short distances and need it to get there quickly, then Road Freight is a better choice.

What is your budget to deliver this freight?

Make sure you know what your budget and cost expectations are when you’re choosing between Road and Rail Freight.

Road Freight tends to be more cost-effective for shorter distances and smaller shipments. On the other hand, Rail Freight offers cost benefits for long-haul or bulk shipments because of its efficiency and ability to move more freight at the one time. If the timing of the delivery isn’t crucial, then Rail Freight is a more cost-effective choice.

It’s also important to remember that there’s lots of other factors that can influence the cost of freight, including fuel surcharges. Make sure you get quotes and compare rates for your freight requirements before you make a booking.

Stay on top of transport options with a freight broker

If you want to know for sure that you’re choosing the right freight option for your business, then working with a freight broker is a great solution.

As industry specialists, a freight broker can advise you on which freight option is right for the type of freight you’re sending. Because they can give your business access to a wide range of carriers for Road and Rail freight, you’ll be able to access competitive pricing, in addition to discovering ways to streamline and make your supply chain more efficient.

Why Choose Freight People?

At Freight People, we’re working to transform the way organisations work with freight, turning it into a competitive differentiator for your business.

We’ve spent years building our relationships and knowledge in the freight industry and work with a broad range of carriers, some of which choose to work exclusively with us.

We’re big enough to have the scale and buying power that gives you access to cost effective freight, but small enough that you’ll never become a number in our system.

Our experience means we’re able to take the frustration out of your business freight, while our dedicated team and home-grown technology support hundreds of Australian businesses with their logistics and supply chain management.

Find out how we can change the way you do freight for your business, get in touch with us today.