Funded projects

Decarbonising UK Freight Transport has awarded nearly £400,000 in funding to six projects through our two Small Research Project funding calls.

The outcomes of these projects will feed into the work of DUKFT and contribute to our aim of unleashing greater investment in the decarbonisation of freight transport in the UK.

Small Research Project Funding – Round 2

Philip Greening, Heriot Watt University

This project will demonstrate how modelling and data can be used to answer the question: “What effects will widespread decarbonisation of freight systems have on the design, operation, costs and environmental footprint of the UK logistics systems in the UK”.

The Logistics modelling team at Heriot Watt will develop a sophisticated agent based model which it will exercise across a comprehensive set of scenarios defined by energy, technology and logistics operations.

Stavros Karamperidis, University of Plymouth

Ports are areas where cargo changes mode of transport, often involving idling time, which in shipping is frequently used for refuelling vessels. Stemming from net-zero targets, there is a drive towards utilisation of ‘cold ironing’ for ships while they are in port. Trucks presently often wait with their engines running, using fossil-based fuels. As land-based transport moves towards greater electrification and utilisation of batteries and/or Hydrogen tanks as alternative energy sources, they could use waiting time at ports for recharging/replacing or filling these sources. The proposed study will examine how ports can act as decarbonisation hubs for multiple modes of transport, by examining application of technologies (e.g. smart ports) and how these enhance ‘refuelling’ of modes while they are loaded/unloaded within the port. Furthermore, the project will examine the investment required in port infrastructure to enable this role in decarbonising freight.

Using mixed methods, this project seeks to understand the approaches investors could take, based on a feasibility study and by identifying solutions to unlock the potential towards net-zero emissions. The study will include berth optimisation (for maritime and land operations) and Just In Time arrival for all modes interacting with ports, to assess how this reduces CO2 emissions.

Small Research Project Funding – Round 1

Fraser McLeod, University of Southampton, and Anthony Velazquez Abad, Transport Research Laboratory

This project will identify the current factors that influence investment decisions for different actors in freight transport by road, rail or sea. Four focus group interviews will be conducted online to reveal the relative importance of these factors to investment decisions for each type of stakeholder and sector. The first three focus groups will include fleet owners, freight operators, freight trade associations and professional bodies for rail, road haulage and shipping. The fourth focus group will explore the drivers for public sector investment in freight decarbonisation and will include Department for Transport family of arm’s-length bodies with regional and local authorities’ representatives. Additional interviews with some of the stakeholders will contribute to generate a multicriteria decision analysis (MCDA) framework that will enable the quantification of changes in the relative significance of these factors for each sector over time. This study will also research the relationships between these factors and internal freight decarbonisation targets, and it will identify the alignment between these and climate emergency, energy and transport policies.

Nadia Ameli, UCL

Financial institutions and investors can support the flow of capital into low/zero carbon investments and enable the transition of sectors which are currently considered as carbon intensive, by ensuring that, in both these cases, their investments are climate aligned. Climate alignment is the process of ensuring lending and investment decisions comply with a downward trajectory toward long-term decarbonization targets. However, a number of barriers common to investments in energy efficiency and specific to climate alignment, make the process of aligning assets and investment portfolios in practice, to be challenging. Using social research methods and utilising a mixed methods approach this project seeks to understand the approaches investors and financiers, in all sectors, currently use for screening their investments for climate alignment and gain a deeper understanding of climate alignment methodologies that are being developed or in use currently, their differences and a detailed exploration of the challenges and barriers faced. Following the analysis, the project will recommend a way forward for climate alignment on freight transport related investments and areas for further research and development.

Alok Choudhary, Loughborough University

The project will map UK freight transportation to characterise and benchmark logistics activity and its carbon footprint for decarbonisation of freight transportation (DFT). It will identify key drivers and barriers, key decision points and key decision-makers in the supply chain for DFT. We develop and apply a novel integrated systems thinking and service design approach for interconnected UK-centric freight logistics (nodes, links, networks, systems and subsystems) while considering the requirements of multiple stakeholders. The outcome will be a benchmarking framework for analysing the carbon footprint of logistics activities and compare the findings with EU and other countries.


The proposed research will use a mixed methods approach and involve key stakeholders from across all transport modes. The findings will be used to inform the development of the proposed benchmarking framework. This will facilitate more effective investment decision making in relation to appropriate interventions relating to both physical assets (e.g. fleet and infrastructure) and the wider business processes within which they are deployed.


The strategic objective is to develop a network of researchers, industry partners and policymakers to lead the evolution of an optimised, shared, multi-user, multi-stakeholder, carbon neutral UK logistics network.

Graham Parkhurst, University of the West of England

Decarbonisation is not a one-off activity; it is a permanent change to the mindset, behaviours and actions of future stakeholders. Joined-up thinking, learning, innovation and adaptive practice are essential for decarbonising the future successfully. This project will co-produce a route-map to this mindset, behaviour and practice shift amongst UK freight stakeholders.Backed by infrastructure investors, operators and end-users, this collaborative, transdisciplinary project aims to co-produce a learning and practice framework for decarbonising with freight stakeholders (e.g. freight/logistics operators, receivers, citizens, policymakers). The framework will be co-created and tested through high-impact stakeholder workshops. The methods and tools will enable users to evaluate the viability of implementing novel technologies and decarbonised energy sources, producing a thirty-year route-map to 2050. The approach will identify decarbonisation alternatives, opportunities, drivers, barriers to implementation, and associated decision-making variables (e.g. choices between technologies, fuels, economies of scale). It will systematically study challenges, trade-offs and synergies necessary to create and accelerate a coherent transition pathway to zero-carbon freight, vital to overall UK decarbonisation. South West England will provide a testbed for developing the framework, method and tools. These will be validated and shared as a prototype supporting other regions in designing an integrated strategy for decarbonising UK freight.