Customers for long-distance goods haulage are free to decide on which transport modes to use on the basis of price and performance. However, independent up-to-date information on which to base such decisions is limited in New Zealand and so existing modes and established haulers are favoured.
In order to address this knowledge gap, a comparative study was undertaken involving the haulage of containers instrumented to allow real-time monitoring of time, location and impact forces. In analysing the results, emphasis was placed on journey duration, impact loading, fuel use/CO2 emissions and price. The principal finding was that of the three transport modes investigated, coastal shipping appeared to be the most cost-efficient and environmentally acceptable means of transporting containerised freight between the North and South Islands. However, to have equivalency with the road mode in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions per kilometre a container is transported, the maritime mode has to transport at least 297 containers per vessel, and the rail mode at least 25 containers per train. The use of an instrumented container was shown to be a low-cost and effective way of assessing the state of New Zealand’s main modes of freight transport from a consumer’s perspective.