A Brief Introduction to Container Haulage

If you have clicked on this post and are wondering ‘What is container haulage?’, you have come to the right place. Container haulage is a critical component of international shipping and goods transportation. It involves the movement of containers by road to ports for further transportation via ships to their desired destinations. This service is managed by specialised companies that ensure the safe and secure transportation of goods using freight services.

How does container haulage work?

When it comes to container haulage services, they can be tailored to clients’ needs, including transporting containers by road to designated ports. James Kemball offers transport to and from major deep-sea ports, inland hubs and railheads, where their experienced team facilitates collection and delivery across the UK and Europe.

Specialised companies all operate in compliance and adhere to the Road Haulage Association Limited’s Conditions of Carriage 2020. Container haulage can also include container rail services, which combine rail and road services with direct-to-door delivery, and dedicated rail access for major ports, ensuring efficient and reliable transportation solutions.

James kemball container haulage truck

Types of Shipping Containers

In the realm of container haulage, containers typically come in two standard sizes: the twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) and the forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU). The latter is the preferred choice due to its widespread usage. Haulage companies being part of established unions such as the British International Freight Association, provide extra insurance for reliable and safe transportation. This certification ensures that these operators are authorised by law to handle large containers securely.

The types of containers are endless. Containers can come in standard sizes and types, suitable for transporting various goods. Common types include:


  • Flat Rack Containers: Ideal for transporting boats and cars due to collapsible sides.
  • Open Side Containers: Facilitate loading wider materials with their side-opening feature.
  • Open Top Containers: Suitable for shipping large items like logs or machinery due to their roofless design.
  • Refrigerated Containers: Used for transporting perishable items or pharmaceutical goods, maintaining specific temperature conditions.

Types of Container Haulage

Several types of container haulage methods are available:


  • Standard Haulage: This method offers a cost-effective solution for transporting standard containers. Leveraging specialised vehicles and experienced operators, standard haulage ensures efficient delivery to designated ports or destinations.
  • Sidelifter (Wait and Load) Haulage: Specifically designed for businesses lacking loading bays, sidelifter haulage employs lifting cranes to unload containers swiftly. This method enhances operational efficiency and is suitable for a wide range of cargo types.
  • Drop and Collect Haulage: Providing unparalleled flexibility, drop and collect haulage services involve the delivery of empty containers followed by the retrieval of full ones. This approach not only optimises resources but also reduces costs, making it an ideal choice for businesses seeking adaptable transportation solutions.

What type of container haulage should I use?

The choice of container haulage depends on various factors, including flexibility needs, cargo type, and business requirements. Options like drop and collect offer flexibility, while standard haulage suits specific load sizes and destinations.

How much does container haulage cost?

The cost of container haulage varies based on urgency, flexibility, distance, load size, and weight. Factors such as the duration of the journey and how heavy the cargo is may impact pricing, with longer trips generally offering reduced costs per mile.

The Benefits of Container Haulage

Container haulage, facilitated by experts like James Kemball, presents a huge range of benefits for businesses and industries:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Enabling cost-efficient transportation of large volumes over long distances, we deliver value-driven solutions, ensuring clients achieve their transportation goals within budget constraints.
  • Safety and Security: Made from durable steel and equipped with locking mechanisms, guarantee secure storage throughout the journey, providing clients with peace of mind regarding their valuable shipments.
  • Flexibility and Versatility: With the ability to transport a wide array of products globally, containers offer unparalleled flexibility.
  • Quick Deliveries: Container shipment, facilitated by our streamlined processes and partnerships with major ports and railheads, accelerates transportation.

Hopefully, we have been able to answer your questions on ‘What is container haulage?’. James Kemball Limited has been providing container transport and storage solutions since 1973. We continue to invest in the highest quality equipment to provide intelligent and cost-efficient solutions for our clients. Our UK and international depots have over 11,600 loaded and empty container capacity. We can facilitate all your cargo needs using our sites in Felixstowe, Ipswich, Southampton, Tilbury and Rotterdam.