Relates to the transport of goods

What is freight transport?

Freight transport can be defined as the stages and means rolled out when transporting goods. Stages include deployed logistics, conveyance or the resources used to reach the delivery destination. Its notable role has a direct influence on commercial trades within a country, or on an international scale. Its impact on world economy is therefore real.

Depending on the infrastructures in place, freight transport is possible via various means and channels. This includes road and rail transport, as well as maritime and air channels. When considered on its own, the term “freight” can also refer to the goods themselves or the transport-related activity. Examples of this are air freight or rail freight.

It should be noted that multimodal transport consists in conducting a freight operation using several conveyance solutions, namely waterways. By basing its entrepreneurial spirit on the principle of freight forwarding, the goal is to optimize delivery lead times and reduce transit-generated costs.

Specificities of freight transport in 6 key points

Freight transport can be described in 6 key points:

  • The status and identity of its various stakeholders: non-vessel operating carriers, transporters, subcontractors, commissioners, vehicle leasers, carriers, etc.;

  • The type and volume of goods to be transported;

  • The transport means considered;

  • The location of loading and unloading sites;

  • Coordination between the various stakeholders and logistical stages;

  • Regulations pertaining to national or global transport.

Examples and practical applications

In more concrete terms, freight transport follows a simple path.

  • The sale of a product generates the need to transport it to its recipient.

  • The transporter arrives at the customer’s site.

  • Once loaded, they take care of delivering the goods directly, or hand over to other means of transport in the case of a multimodal offer.

Depending on the place of delivery, several intermediaries (or subcontractors) may integrate the process - such as the commissioner or carrier. The transporter may be a commissioned company or another branch operated by the company. The choice will depend on the company’s logistical needs and what resources it is prepared to roll out.

Freight transport regulations show disparities according to the means of transport used. This being said, legal obligations are all similar, despite the documents being named differently. The stakeholders’ identities are detailed, as are the goods’ features and value, as well as their pick-up and drop-off locations. Boasting a commercial status, the goods transport contract can be:

  • A CMR waybill for land transport resources (road and rail);

  • A bill of lading: its equivalent for maritime transport;

  • An AWB or air waybill: dedicated to planes.

Freight transport in figures

In France, the turnover generated by freight transport amounts to 200 billion euros. This figure takes all related logistical operations into account. It represents about 1,400,000 jobs throughout the country.

On a global scale, the transport of goods is conducted via maritime transport 80% of the time. In France, road transport occupies over 88% of the market. Rail transport is estimated at close to 10% of national traffic.


Regulatory cornerstones

  • Transport Code

  • Law on the guidelines for internal transport dated 30 December 1982

  • Geneva Convention on 19 May 1956 pertaining to the international carriage of goods by road

  • Decree no.99-752 dated 30 August 1999 pertaining to market access and the transport industry