Home > Newsroom > Haulage Guide
Amazon Freight trucks parked outside a Fulfilment Centre
February 23, 2023
Haulage: The Ultimate Guide
What is haulage?
The modern economy can’t move without haulage. Since the UK and numerous other countries rely heavily on this aspect of the supply chain, quick and reliable service is the aim of many transport companies. Employing over 2.5 million people, the haulage industry is one of the biggest in Britain.

Derived from the late 16th-century verb ‘hall’ which meant ‘to draw or pull forcibly’, contemporary usage of the term ‘haul’ refers to the act of pulling something — generally, a rather heavy object or objects. The widespread use of the term in the logistics industry describes conveying large cargo units on the road and via railway. Yet haulage does not solely describe these, as it can also mean moving loads using trailers, vans, lorries, buses and motorcycles. In fact, a recent UK government study defined freight transport as “the carriage of goods between an origin and a destination for commercial reasons because goods available at one geographical location are required at another location for processing, sorting or consumption.”

What is the difference between haulage and freight?
The main distinction between these is not clear cut, and can boil down to a semantics problem. While ‘haulage’ is typically used in the UK to describe the movement of goods, particularly large ones, ‘freight’ on the other hand can be used to refer to the content of the vehicles (cargo). Freight is also used more broadly, for instance, the act of transportation may be called freight, or even the cost of shipping (e.g. ‘freight rates).

For these purposes, let’s define haulage as long-distance conveyance of cargo, but limited to truck and rail. Freight transport, on the other hand, encompasses moving freight via rail, road, sea and air. However, Amazon Freight’s service provides all the road haulage needs an enterprise will have.

What is a haulage company?
The logistics industry is made up of different sectors i.e. warehousing, fulfilment, distribution and supply chain management. A haulage business conveys machinery, furniture, large-quantity commodities and farmed goods, or even cars and other vehicles. Small and large-scale manufacturers, for instance, both rely on haulage to move their product between production centres and warehouses, depots and shop outlets. Often they will own their carrier vehicles—in this case, a private truck or train—that transport cargo from A to B.

Haulage operators (sometimes called ‘hauliers’) are typically pre-booked, and the process of managing their load is more stringent. Haulier businesses are responsible for moving 98% of food and agriculture produce in the UK, as well as 98% of machinery and consumer products in England, Scotland and Wales, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA). They also report that road haulage transport is the fifth-largest employer in the country.

What are the other types of haulage?
Road haulage covers the majority of haulier operations within national boundaries via truck or train, but this also includes more specific types of large cargo transport over long-distances that vary in their terms of service, for instance, over liability for cargo. Knowing the difference can have an impact on the decision-making process around your logistics.

What is merchant haulage?
Merchant haulage is when haulers are chosen directly by a vendor or consignee (receiver of the goods) to move large containers of cargo directly. In this scenario, the merchant may be a shipper, trader or an agent, but the hauler is not responsible under the Bill of Lading for the goods, meaning that they do not shoulder any liability for damages and can hold the merchant liable if there are any. The consignee can, however, negotiate their own rates.

What is container haulage?
Container haulage is more relevant to overseas shipping. It takes care of transporting cargo to a port, so that they can then be transferred on to ships. The goods are loaded into containers before being taken to this next destination, and the container haulage operator looks after this first leg of the journey and makes sure cargo is safely transported. These ‘intermodal’ containers (‘equivalent units’) come in two sizes of 20 or 40 feet.

What is carrier haulage?
When an inland shipping line nominates their own haulage contractor to move a container from A to B, this is known as carrier haulage. In this case, the shipping line takes responsibility for all liabilities, damages and other claims that may occur outside of that which results from poor stowage and packaging. For this service, the consignee pays the line’s rate.

Trust Amazon Freight to move your cargo
For Amazon Freight, long-distance freight transportation is just part of the package. We can carry out your haulage needs smoothly and on time, using our internal freight brokerage system to find the right heavy goods carrier either for inland domestic shipping or cross-country (EU only). If you’re a road haulage carrier, join our network through Amazon Freight Partner. If you’re a vendor looking to move large units of cargo, get in touch with us today at freight-uk-interest@amazon.com to find out about our competitive rates and how we can further support your business logistics.

Conditions of use Privacy Notice
© 1996-2022, Amazon Freight is offered by Amazon EU SARL