Freight consolidation scheme

Basic Information




Thematic areas

Urban logistics
  • Distribution consolidation schemes
  • Fleet management
  • Urban freight transport plans


The aim of the measure was to create a more sustainable freight solution and reduce movements of delivery vehicles in target areas.

Implementing sustainable mobility

The measure was implemented in response to the need to reduce traffic in certain target areas; to reduce conflicts between vehicles in loading areas and delivery bays; to improve air quality in the city centre; to help reduce supply chain costs; and to provide an enhanced delivery service for retailers.

The freight consolidation scheme was designed to serve retailers in Bristol’s core retail area, Broadmead. The six-month trial involved 20 retailers, and possibilities for an ongoing scheme were investigated.


The initial step in the development of the consolidation centre was to review the existing freight distribution patterns in Broadmead. In autumn 2003, a survey of retailers in Broadmead was undertaken and a total of 118 surveys were completed using face-to-face interview techniques. The survey data were analysed to provide a list of retailers fitting the consolidation criteria, who would be invited to participate in the trial. The recruitment of retailers began in April 2004, with Exel Logistics taking a lead role. The consolidation centre commenced operation in May 2004 with the aim of building up to full capacity over a period of time.

The Broadmead freight consolidation centre is located 11 km from the city centre, close to the strategic road network. The scheme was developed with the active support and participation of key local and national stakeholders.


There was a reduction in delivery vehicle movements to participating retailers each month from the beginning of the scheme. From the third month of operation, the percentage of vehicle reduction remained at over 50 percent. This was due to an increase in the number of retailers joining the scheme, with the increased throughput allowing greater use of the available space within the dedicated consolidation centre delivery trips. As a result, a reduction in emissions of CO2, NOx and particulate matter was recorded.

The results of the initial phase of the scheme were so positive that Bristol City Council decided to extend the duration of the scheme.

The city council and three neighbouring local authorities worked with the freight sector to form the Freight Quality Partnership. This forum has provided a mechanism to discuss innovative freight concepts and the Commercial Vehicle Drivers’ Atlas, produced in 2003, was the partnership’s first output. The atlas enables freight vehicles to find the most appropriate routes (also bearing in mind height and weight restrictions) for deliveries to business parks and other key destinations in the city.  

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