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May 5, 2024
What are lanes in trucking, and why are they so important? It’s a common question among decision-makers in the freight industry.

If you’re regularly moving goods across the UK, whether for long trips from Tees Valley to Manchester, London to Edinburgh, or even a short haul from Bristol to Cheltenham, freight lanes deliver in terms of giving time back, raising efficiency and return on investment (ROI).

This article should put shippers on the right track to understanding freight lanes, and how designated routes for all their cargo can benefit businesses of all sizes.
What are freight lanes?
Freight lanes (also known as carrier lanes or trucking lanes) are designated routes between cities or other locations that freight carriers use regularly. It’s a pretty straightforward concept: they may connect towns to transport hubs, with multiple stop-off points along the way, or take freight directly to its end destination.

In the UK, road freight carriers use lanes as part of the strategic highways network, which is mainly owned and operated by the government body Highways England. The network contains approximately 3,000 km of motorways and 4,100 km of trunk A roads.

While it represents only 2% of the total road network, it accommodates the majority of heavy goods vehicle journeys (66%), according to the Department for Transport. There are also different networks servicing each UK region.
What are the different types of freight lanes?
Owner-operator: individual lanes are set up by businesses as commonly-used routes and are typically contracted with a specific shipper.
Long-haul: as the name suggests, long-haul lanes cover long distances, connecting multiple hubs and cities across the country. They are typically dedicated lanes for FTL or LTL.
Short-haul: often used for last-mile logistics, short-haul lanes typically cover fewer than 100 miles in distance.
How are freight lanes chosen?
The ideal place to set up a freight lane is dictated by several factors: the lane demand, what infrastructure is available, and geography.
1. Location
Shippers, carriers and other logistics decision-makers tend to choose lanes that are well-connected to local distribution centres, manufacturers and other agents in the supply chain, i.e. within a 100-mile radius from their business HQ.
2. Demand
Another valuable way to pick a freight lane is through existing shipping data. The most commonly-used routes are an obvious place to start: many freight shippers will have an easily predictable volume of cargo to transport, which therefore makes dedicated lanes a logical option.
3. Profitability
The specific choice of freight lane, however, is also determined by the terms available and the potential revenue from enhanced efficiency. For example, revenue per mile (accounting for both loaded and empty miles), the number and price of tolls, and lane surcharges, all affect the bottom line.
What is a dedicated freight lane?
Dedicated freight is where shippers and carriers create an agreement for the carrier to move regular shipments in the same trucking lane at a fixed price over a specific period. It’s also known as contract freight.

The dedicated freight contract usually commits the carrier to provide a quota of driver capacity and truck space to the shipper. Keeping the dedicated lane usually means meeting certain service requirements, e.g. on-time pickup and delivery, accepting tenders, and so on.
What are the benefits of dedicated freight lanes?
Across the UK and around the world, dedicated freight lanes offer significant advantages to shippers, carriers and wider society. Here’s how:
1. Cost efficiency
Making transport routes more efficient is hugely beneficial for a business’ bottom lines. One of the key advantages of dedicated lanes is that they help boost the flow of fully loaded trucks, providing consistent access to a network that enables seamless freight transport between hubs, distribution centres and the end customer.

The savings they make from increased efficiency in cargo movement can then be passed on to the consumer and additional profit reinvested into growing the business.
2. Road safety
Dedicated lanes serve to limit the interaction between trucks and passenger vehicles. This has the potential to reduce the rate of car accidents. Having designated routes for HGVs is also good for managing traffic and cutting congestion, which works toward better road safety and helps reduce air pollution.

On top of this, when freight lane infrastructure is designed strategically, they can support higher traffic levels without seeing corresponding traffic problems, which further helps limit the environmental impact of HGV journeys.
3. Predictability
Freight rates are known to be fluid throughout the year, whether that’s because of seasonal demand changes, weather conditions or other factors. Having dedicated shipment lanes gives freight carriers and shipper clients much more stability and consistency for cargo deliveries. Drivers become more familiar with pickup and drop-off locations, and vendors are better able to calculate logistics costs and use these forecasts to maximise efficiency and control revenue.
Leverage dedicated lanes with Amazon Freight
Amazon Freight provides a fast, hassle-free middle-mile logistics technology solution for anyone looking to ship road freight. We can transport your palletised shipments for either less-than-truckloads (LTL) or full truckloads. Your goods can be delivered directly to one of our fulfilment centres or to non-Amazon facilities for full-truckload shipments.

Our all-in rates are transparent through booking, whether you need to move a single load quickly or want contract rates on your most-used lanes. Meanwhile, we treat your freight like our own, and our Account Managers are on hand around the clock, every day to support your needs. Shippers can leverage Amazon’s extensive network of carrier partners, for dependable freight performance all year round.

View our products and services or contact freight-uk-interest@amazon.com to find out more about how we can help. You may find some answers to your questions on our FAQs page.

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