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Road Freight Transport Survey

Quarter 2 2019

Road freight activity, Quarter 2 2017-2019
 Q2 2017Q2 20181Q2 2019% change Q2 2018-2019
Tonne-km (million)2,9623,1143,1360.7%
Tonnes carried (thousand)39,61140,32542,7826.1%
Vehicle kilometres (million)4124204507.1%
Average number of vehicles (number)107,704117,151127,5708.9%
Laden journeys (thousand)3,3533,5103,96613.0%
1 Minor revisions to quarter 2 data in 2018

Road freight tonnage increased by 6.1% in Quarter 2 2019

Figure 1: Goods transported by road, Quarter 2 2017-2019
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  • In the second quarter of 2019, a total of 42.8 million tonnes of goods was transported by road. This represents an increase of 6.1% when compared with the same period in 2018. See table 1.
  • Activity measured as weight by distance (tonne-kilometres) increased by 0.7% to 3,136 million tonne-kilometres in the second quarter of 2019 when compared with the same quarter in 2018.
  • There were an estimated 127,570 goods vehicles (greater than 2 tonnes unladen weight) on the roads in Ireland in Quarter 2 of 2019, which was 8.9% higher than in the same period in 2018.
  • The total distance covered by road freight transport in the second quarter was 450 million kilometres.
  • The commodity group 'Quarry products, metal ores and peat' represented a quarter (25.4%) of all tonnes carried. See table 2.
Type of workTonnes carried (million)
Import/export work3.661
Carriage of livestock0.427
Carriage of other farm produce from farms2.256
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs, etc. to farms2.199
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites 15.766
Delivery of goods to retail outlets3.931
Delivery of goods to wholesalers3.474
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories4.961
Delivery of goods to households1.273
Other work4.835
Table 1: Road freight activity by business of owner, Quarter 2 2017-2019
Q2 2017 Q2 20181 Q2 2019
 TransportOtherTotal TransportOtherTotal TransportOtherTotal
Tonne-km (million)2,1178452,962 2,2089063,114 2,2169203,136
Tonnes carried (thousand)22,68516,92639,611 22,16918,15640,325 23,92218,86142,782
Vehicle kilometres (million)204208412 210210420 216234450
Laden journeys (thousand)1,3192,0333,353 1,3242,1853,510 1,4232,5433,966
1 Minor revisions to quarter 2 data in 2018
Table 2: Road freight activity by commodity group carried, Quarter 2 2019
CommodityTonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometres
Products of agriculture, forestry and fishing3583,78826
Coal and natural gas172021
Quarry products, metal ores and peat35310,86218
Textiles and leather262164
Wood, pulp and paper1481,58513
Coke and refined petroleum products1612,28311
Chemicals and plastics1361,38113
Other non-metallic mineral products3017,44321
Metal products (except machinery and equipment)615485
Machinery and equipment586088
Furniture and other manufactured goods5851413
Secondary raw materials and waste981,71311
Other goods6174,756229
Table 3: Road freight activity by main type of work, Quarter 2 2019
 Tonne-kmTonnes carriedVehicle kilometres
Import/export work7313,66154
Carriage of livestock574279
Carriage of other farm produce from farms1202,25610
Carriage of fertilisers, feeding stuffs, etc. to farms1492,19913
Delivery of goods to road works or building sites 53915,76674
Delivery of goods to retail outlets3813,931117
Delivery of goods to wholesalers3683,47455
Delivery of materials and fuels to factories4234,96143
Delivery of goods to households751,27328
Other work2944,83547
Table 4: Domestic transport activity1 classified by region of origin, Quarter 2 2019
RegionTonne-kmTonnes carried
Northern and Western43917.6%6,73616.6%
Eastern and Midland1,12144.8%19,00646.7%
1Domestic transport activity excludes Northern Ireland and other countries
Table 5: Road freight activity by country of origin, Quarter 2 2019
Country of destination 
Country of originIrelandUnited KingdomOther EU countriesNon-EU countriesTotal
Tonne-km (millions)
United Kingdom9547200163
Other EU countries7646750197
Non-EU countries9010020
Tonnes carried (thousands)
United Kingdom437212360685
Other EU countries75651760316
Non-EU countries50409

Background Notes

Survey Methodology


This report contains the results of the "National Survey of Transport of Goods by Road" which is conducted on a weekly basis throughout the year.

Legal framework

This is a statutory survey conducted under the Statistics (Road Freight) Order, 2016 (SI No 146 of 2016) to meet Ireland’s EU requirements under Council Regulation (EC) 70/2012 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road.

Scope of the survey

Quarterly results cover a survey period of 13 weeks for each quarter. Irish registered vehicles that come within the scope of the survey must meet the following criteria:

a.    belong to the motor taxation class ‘Goods Vehicles’
b.    have a valid motor tax disk during the relevant survey week. However, in practice, as the survey sample was selected several weeks before the survey week, vehicles where the motor tax had expired no more than three months previously were also included in the scope.
c.    have an unladen weight of two tonnes and over
d.    have a vehicular body type appropriate for carrying freight.

No other vehicles are covered. In particular this means that vehicles in other motor taxation classes such as agricultural tractors, general haulage tractors, dumpers and exempt vehicles (i.e. vehicles exempt from liability to pay road tax which includes state owned, diplomatic, fire services or disabled drivers) are not included in the survey.

All activity of goods vehicles within the scope of the survey engaged in the carriage of goods on the public road, either on own account or for hire or reward, are covered.  Excluded, therefore, is activity such as site work off the public road or work of a mainly service nature (e.g. carriage of personnel to or from places of work). 

Sampling frame

The sampling frame for the Survey comes from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s database on vehicles taxed as goods vehicles.

The sampling frame/register is updated every eight weeks during the year with information from the Department regarding vehicles:

1.    being registered for the first time
2.    having their motor taxation class changed
3.    being formally scrapped
4.    having their registered owner changed. 

The information required of each vehicle on the register for survey purposes is as follows:

a)    year of manufacture of the vehicle
b)    date of first registration of the vehicle
c)    an indication as to whether the vehicle has been taxed for the carriage of goods on own account or for hire or reward
d)    the unladen weight of the vehicle
e)    name and address of the person on whose name the vehicle was most recently taxed (referred to as the owner of the vehicle in the following paragraphs).


The results are published on a quarterly and annual basis.

Sample design

Information is collected in respect of one week’s transport activity for a random sample of goods vehicles.   Every week a sample of vehicles is selected from the register. A survey questionnaire is then issued to the registered owners of these vehicles by post, seeking information on the vehicle and an account of the vehicle’s activity during that week. For the purposes of sample selection, vehicles are divided into 20 strata.  These strata were created on the basis of four criteria:

  • the unladen weight of the vehicle
  • year of first registration of the vehicle
  • whether the vehicle had been taxed for the carriage of goods on own account or for hire or reward
  • year of manufacture.

Definitions used

Type of journey

Two basic categories of journey are distinguished – split delivery/collection journeys and end-to-end journeys.

  • End-to-end journeys are those which have no intermediate collection or delivery points between their origin and destination.
  • Split delivery/collection journeys involve the depositing and/or collection of part of the load carried at one or more stopping points along the way. A common example of such a journey would be the delivery of beer to public houses and the collection of empties.

Tonnes carried

  • This is the weight of goods (including empties) carried inclusive of packaging etc. but excluding the weight of demountable containers (if any) in which the goods are carried.
  • For split delivery/collection journeys tonnes carried are taken as the weight of goods at the start of the journey plus the weight of any other goods collected during the journey.

Tonne-kilometres (tonne-km)

  • For end-to-end journeys this is the result of multiplying the weight of goods carried by the distance they were carried.
  • For split delivery/collection journeys more complex formulae were used.  These involved multiplying the distance travelled with a load by an estimate of the average weight of load carried.

National transport

National transport is the carriage of goods by road by Irish registered goods vehicles between two places (a place of loading/embarkment and a place of unloading/disembarkment) both of which are located in the Republic of Ireland.

NUTS2 and NUTS3 Regions

The regional classification in this release is based on the NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units) classification used by Eurostat. Until Q4 2017, the NUTS3 regions corresponded to the eight Regional Authorities established under the Local Government Act, 1991 (Regional Authorities) (Establishment) Order, 1993, which came into operation on 1 January 1994 while the NUTS2 regions, which were proposed by Government and agreed by Eurostat in 1999, were groupings of those historic NUTS3 regions.

However, the NUTS3 boundaries were amended on 21st of November 2016 under Regulation (EC) No. 2066/2016 and have come into force from Q1 2018. These new groupings are reflected in the Road Freight Transport Survey results from Q1 2018 onwards. The changes resulting from the amendment are that County Louth has moved from the Border to the Mid-East and what was formerly South Tipperary has moved from the South-East to the Mid-West, resulting in the new NUTS2 and NUTS3 regions:

Northern & Western NUTS2 Region Southern NUTS2 Region Eastern & Midland NUTS2 Region
Border Cavan Mid-West Clare Dublin Dublin City
  Donegal   Limerick City & County   Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown
  Leitrim   Tipperary   Fingal
  Monaghan       South Dublin
    South-East Carlow Mid-East Kildare
West Galway City   Kilkenny   Meath
  Galway County   Waterford City & County   Wicklow
  Mayo   Wexford   Louth
        Midland Laois
    South-West Cork City   Longford
      Cork County   Offaly
      Kerry   Westmeath
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