What Is Line Haul: A Complete Guide to Line Haul Transportation

December 6, 2023
13 min read

Are you an eCommerce business owner grappling with the intricacies of shipping and logistics? Or perhaps you're a manager looking to optimise your line haul operations? Welcome to your comprehensive and in-depth guide. This article will demystify the line haul process, its meaning, and its significance in the logistics industry. 

What Is Line Haul? 

Line haul refers to the process of moving large quantities of goods over specific distances, typically between central distribution hubs and terminals, including ports, warehouses, and cities. This is in contrast to short-haul or last-mile delivery services, and this distinction has also been highlighted in the table below. 

A Tabular Comparison: Line Haul vs Short-Haul vs Last-Mile

AspectLine-HaulShort-HaulLast-Mile Delivery
DistanceLong distances, often over 250 milesShorter distances, typically less than 250 milesUsually the final 50 miles or less
Vehicle TypeHeavy trucks, often full-size semi-trailersMedium-sized trucksLight commercial vehicles, vans, scooters, drones
FrequencyFewer stops, point-to-point or hub-to-hubMore frequent stops but still limitedMultiple stops, often residential
SpeedSlower due to long distances and regulationsFaster than line-haul but slower than last-mileFastest, as the distances are shorter
Goods TypeBulk goods, full loadsPartial loads, less-than-truckload (LTL)Smaller parcels, individual items
Primary ObjectiveTo move large volumes of goods between cities or countriesTo transport goods over shorter distances, often between cities within the same regionTo deliver goods directly to the end customer
CostEconomies of scale make it cost-effective per mile but high overallModerate costOften the most expensive per mile
RegulationsSubject to national and sometimes international regulationsMay be subject to local or regional regulationsOften subject to local regulations, including residential and urban restrictions
TrackingOften tracked but with less granularityMore frequent trackingHighly tracked, often with real-time updates for the customer
Environmental ImpactHigher carbon footprint due to longer distancesModerate carbon footprintLower carbon footprint per journey, but high overall due to frequency
Skill Level RequiredRequires specialised long-haul driving skillsRequires good regional knowledgeRequires good local knowledge and customer service skills

The Influence of Line Haul Carriers on Key Operational Areas

The line haul process is a critical component of a supply chain, often consisting of multiple modes of transportation. The objective is to move goods as efficiently as possible to reduce costs and ensure timely delivery. It is a highly coordinated operation that requires meticulous planning, from route optimisation to load balancing and scheduling. 

In this section, we will explore the critical areas where a carrier's performance can make a difference.

Inter-City Freight Movement

The carrier’s organisation and reliability can greatly influence how quickly products move through the supply chain, affecting everything from inventory levels to customer satisfaction.

Timeframe for Deliveries

Their adherence to schedules and ability to manage unforeseen delays can make the difference between a happy client and a lost business opportunity.

Transfers to and from Depots

Their adeptness in this stage can affect storage costs and the total time that the goods take to reach their final destination.

Sorting Facility Operations

Line haul carriers play a crucial role in sorting facility operations. Any delays or disruptions in transporting goods to and from sorting centres can have a ripple effect, disrupting the entire supply chain.

Cost of Transportation

Factors such as fuel economy, route optimisation, and the carrier's own pricing model can all contribute to the final cost. Businesses must carefully consider these variables to ensure they are getting the best value for their investment.

Line Haul vs Long Haul

Navigating the complexities of the transportation industry involves understanding the subtle yet critical differences between line haul and long haul. Below, we shed light on their unique characteristics, applications, and implications for your logistics strategy.

CriteriaLine HaulLong Haul
Distance and GeographyShorter distances, usually between cities or nearby regionsLonger distances, often spanning multiple states or countries
Modes of TransportationPrimarily trucks and railsTrucks, rails, and often ships for international routes
Purpose and DestinationFrom distribution centres to retail stores or specific destinations within a localised regionBroad supply chain purposes, often from one part of a country to another or internationally
Cost ImplicationsGenerally less expensiveMore expensive due to longer distances and more complex logistics
Time SensitivityQuicker and often more frequent service optionsLonger transit times, especially for international routes with regulatory checks

Why Is Line Haul Important?

Understanding the significance of line haul in the logistics and transportation sector is essential for any business looking to optimise its supply chain. Here, we delve into the key reasons why it’s important:

Cost-Effective Bulk Movement

One of the most compelling advantages is its effectiveness in transporting goods in bulk. By consolidating shipments from multiple sources, line haul operations can significantly reduce the cost per unit of transportation. This is particularly beneficial for organisations aiming to manage and reduce operational costs. For small and medium eCommerce businesses, like those partnering with Bezos, this efficiency translates into more competitive pricing and better margins.

Timely and Predictable Deliveries

In today's fast-paced world, timely delivery is not just a luxury; it's a necessity. Such services often come with defined departure and arrival times, making the process predictable and reliable. This is crucial for businesses that operate on tight schedules and need to meet customer expectations. It also allows companies to better manage their inventory levels, reducing the costs associated with overstocking or understocking.

Versatility in Handling Goods

Whether you're shipping small packages, heavy pallets, or even hazardous materials, line haul services can accommodate a wide variety of goods. This adaptability makes it a go-to solution for businesses with diverse product ranges or those looking to expand their offerings. For instance, an Australian consumer brand looking to expand into the UK and Europe would find this flexibility invaluable.

The Gateway to International Markets

In an increasingly globalised world, it provides the infrastructure needed to connect different countries and continents, making worldwide trade more accessible. For businesses looking to expand their reach, it is often the first step in scaling and entering new markets. It's particularly beneficial for companies that require a robust and reliable logistics network to manage international shipments, customs, and other regulatory challenges.

Safety and Security

Line haul carriers often adhere to stringent safety protocols, ensuring that goods are transported securely. This is crucial for high-value or sensitive items that require special handling and care during transit.

The Mechanics of Line Haul 

For anyone involved in logistics or supply chain management, understanding the mechanics of line haul is crucial. This section aims to break down how it operates, its key components, and why each element is vital for a smooth and seamless process.

How Does It Work?

The line haul process begins with the consolidation of goods that have similar destinations. These items are loaded into long-distance trailers and transported to one or multiple distribution facilities. Upon arrival, they undergo another round of categorisation and sorting. 

This is a highly coordinated effort that involves various stakeholders, from drivers to dock executives, and employs a range of assets like trucks, depots, hubs, and sorting facilities. The sorted goods are then dispatched to their final destinations, completing the cycle.

Carriers: The Backbone of Line Haul

Carriers are the cornerstone of any line haul operation. They are responsible for the actual transportation of goods between hubs or terminals. It's essential to choose carriers with a proven track record in handling both LTL (Less Than Truckload) and FTL (Full Truckload) loads. Their experience and reliability can significantly impact the efficiency and timeliness of the entire process. 

Tracking: The Digital Nerve Center

In today's digital age, tracking has transitioned from being an optional feature to an essential requirement. Advanced digital tools and software are deployed to provide real-time visibility into line haul operations. This includes the location of the goods, estimated time of arrival, and any potential delays or issues that may arise. Instant tracking is especially important for businesses that require a high level of coordination and have tight delivery schedules.

Who Needs Line Haul? 

Understanding the diverse range of businesses that can benefit from line haul transportation can offer valuable insights into its universal applicability. Let’s delve into specific sectors where it plays a pivotal role.

eCommerce Businesses

In the eCommerce sector, line haul is often a critical component of the fulfilment process. Such companies rely heavily on it to move goods between warehouses, distribution centres, and sorting facilities. This ensures that products are readily available for last-mile delivery, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.


Whether it's transporting raw materials to production facilities or moving finished products to distributors, line haul acts as the connecting thread in the manufacturing supply chain. It enables manufacturers to maintain just-in-time inventory systems, reduce storage costs, and accelerate production cycles.


For retailers with multiple stores, it allows for the structured movement of stock between different outlets, helping retailers maintain optimal inventory levels across locations. This is particularly beneficial during peak seasons or sales events, where specific stores may require additional stock to meet increased demand.

Logistics Providers

Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) like Bezos often incorporate line haul services as part of their broader logistics solutions. In doing so, they can provide clients with a more comprehensive service package, covering everything from storage and picking to long-distance transportation and last-mile delivery.

International Traders

Businesses involved in international trade can particularly benefit from services that offer cross-border capabilities. This enables them to tap into new markets and expand their customer base, all while ensuring that goods are transported securely and efficiently.

Niche Markets

Even businesses in more niche markets can find value. For example, companies dealing in perishable goods or hazardous materials may require carriers with specialised equipment and certifications.

How Bezos Can Help 

In the complex world of logistics and supply chain management, having a reliable partner can make all the difference. Bezos stands out as a full-service fulfilment provider capable of handling all elements of your logistics needs, including line haul transportation. 

Here's why choosing Bezos is a decision you won't regret:

Time-Saving Efficiency

One of the standout features of partnering with us is the significant time-saving benefits. We handle your logistics, saving you between one to five hours a day on tasks such as inventory management, order processing, and customer enquiries. This frees up valuable time that you can invest in other critical areas of your business, like product development or marketing.

Cutting-Edge Technology

We employ proprietary technology designed to proactively identify and resolve logistics issues. This means that potential problems are addressed before they can impact your business or your customers. It's like having a 24/7 monitoring system that ensures everything runs smoothly, giving you peace of mind.

Exceptional Customer Support

Customer service is not just a department at Bezos; it's an integral part of our company culture. With five-star client support and a dedicated account manager, you can be assured that your logistics operations are in safe hands. Plus, we’re committed to responding to tickets within two hours, underlining our focus on timely and effective customer service.

Ready to take your logistics and line haul operations to the next level? 

With easy steps to get started and tangible benefits awaiting you, there's never been a better time to optimise your logistics operations with Bezos. Get in touch today to get a comprehensive quote outlining how we can meet your specific logistics needs.


In the ever-evolving landscape of logistics and supply chain management, line haul transportation serves as the backbone for the movement of goods over long distances. The productivity, cost-effectiveness, and scalability it offers make it an indispensable service for businesses across industries. Whether you're a small eCommerce startup or a large multinational corporation, understanding the nuances can significantly impact your operational competence and customer satisfaction.

Hence, choosing the right carrier is crucial, as their performance can influence key operational areas like inter-city freight movement, delivery timeframes, and overall transportation costs. Advanced tracking systems and real-time visibility also play a vital role in transparent and optimised operations. 

In this context, Bezos emerges as a full-service fulfilment provider that can handle all your logistics needs. With benefits like time-saving efficiency, cutting-edge technology, and exceptional customer support, Bezos offers a holistic solution for your logistics challenges.

Ready to optimise your line haul operations? Get started today with Bezos and take the first step towards logistics excellence. Get your free quote now.

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