Freight Movement Survey - Rail, Sea and Air

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    The Freight Movement Survey (FMS) - Rail, Sea and Air (RSA) is a fully enumerated annual survey. The survey collects information about domestic freight movements from rail and air freight operators. Information collected by the Bureau of Transpaort Economics from port authorities is incorporated with the information published from the survey. FMS - RSA publishes information on the origin, destination, commodity type, weight and method of transportation.

    The purpose of the collection is to provide reliable freight statistics for the development of transport policies and the efficient allocation of resources.

    Transport statistics user reviews conducted by the ABS have confirmed that key statistics relating to freight flows between geographic areas (whether they be inter-regional or intra-urban) are a high priority need. Strong demand exists for statistical information to assist in the following areas:

    • better understand and estimate the demand for transport services;
    • efficiently plan infrastructure investment expenditure;
    • assist in the determination of infrastructure and maintenance priorities;
    • assess the impact of changes in competition policy following the Hilmer reforms;
    • assist in development of strategic transport system plans;
    • transport modelling; and
    • industry market intelligence.

    Summary of User Needs
    • modelling Australia's transport industry at the Australian, State and regional levels;
    • State and Commonwealth policy development on roads, railways and ports; and
    • State and Commonwealth policy development on the transport industry in general.

    Users of the Information
    • Bureau of Transport Economics;
    • Department of Transport and Regional Services;
    • all State transport departments, rail and port authorities;
    • State development departments;
    • transport associations and major transport companies; and
    • academic institutions.

    The scope of the survey is all freight movements within Australia. International freight moving into or out of Australia or in transit, freight moved by the defence forces or by barge is excluded.

    Movements involving more than one mode of transportation are recorded as separate movements. Freight moved by rail which involves two rail operators is recorded as two separate movements. For example, a consignment moved from Melbourne to Townsville is recorded as one movement from Melbourne to Brisbane and a separate movement from Brisbane to Townsville.


    Conceptual framework
    The FMS - Rail, Sea and Air (RSA) survey is intended to provide a measure of the freight moved by rail, sea and air within Australia.

    Main outputs
    Planned form of release

    It is envisaged that the results from the survey will be released in an annual publication similar to "Freight Movements Survey, Australia, Summary" (ABS Cat. no. 9220.0). More detailed data will be available as a special data service.

    Statistics available for FMS - RSA will include:

    • tonnages and tonne-kilometres of freight moved by commodity;
    • tonnages and tonne-kilometres of freight moved by origin and destination; and
    • method of transportation reported by tonnes, and tonne-kilometres.

    A special subset of commodities based on the Australian Transport Freight Commodity Classification (ATFCC) will be used to describe the goods moved although consideration is underway to basing this on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Product Classification (ANZSPC) in the future. Information will also be available as to whether the goods are classified as dangerous or require refrigeration. Separate origin and destination information will be available at the Statistical Division level. Method of transportation will be either solid bulk, liquid bulk, containerised or other.

    Mode is by rail sea and air.

    Total tonnes carried and total tonne-kilometres will be presented by origin and destination of freight by statistical division by state using the 1999 version of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC).

    The description of goods moved is based on the Australian Transport Freight Commodity Classification (ATFCC) with consideration being given of moving towards the Australian and New Zealand Standard Product Classification (ANZSPC).

    Method of carriage is based on the Australian Pack Classification (APC) as outlined in the ATFCC.

    Other concepts (summary)

    1. National & State/Territory\1.01 Australia
    1. National & State/Territory\1.02 All States & Territories
    2. Parts of State\2.01 Statistical Division (SD)

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    Some geograhic areas may be excluded depending on confidentiality and the level of consent obtained from providers to release information.


    Frequency comments
    Data will be collected quarterly however output will be produced annually.

    1993 testing for the survey began.

    April 1994 - a quarterly survey was introduced and continued in the same format until the end of the March quarter 2000. Information was aggregated and made available for 32 broad commodity descriptions.

    April 2000 an annual survey was conducted and expanded to include freight movements made by articulated vehicles. At this time some changes were introduced to align the information collected across the modes:

    • freight movements within urban areas were included in the survey;
    • freight moved by barge was excluded from the survey;
    • the number of broad commodity descriptions available was reduced to 21;
    • a liquid bulk category was added to method of transport; and
    • tonne-kilometres information was collected

    April 2001 no data collected for the period April to June 2001

    July 2001 the survey reverted to freight movements made by rail, sea and air.


    Data availability comments

    04/02/2003 03:59 PM