Fresh produce is featuring heavily in a new Tesco and Direct Rail Services (DRS) partnership that aims to reduce the retailer's carbon emissions.
The new service will be the first time Tesco has used refrigerated rail freight in the UK, distributing chilled goods from Tilbury to Coatbridge by low-CO2 rail twice a day, seven days a week.
The supermarket said the move means that rail freight will play an even bigger role in helping it deliver Christmas this year and over the next couple of weeks the new service will transport hundreds of different products, including festive favourites such as sprouts, parsnips, carrots, onions, oranges and lemons.
Using rail has significant environmental benefits, Tesco added. The 415-mile route will use DRS’s Class 88 bi-mode electric locomotives which can run on electricity and produce zero exhaust and greenhouse gas emissions. The service alone will take at least 17,000 containers off the road each year, saving Tesco 7.3 million road miles and nearly 9,000 tonnes of CO2e.
Jason Tarry, Tesco UK and Ireland chief executive, said: “We’ve been using rail to transport our goods since 2008 and this new service reflects our continuing commitment to rail which has clear advantages for our business, our customers and the planet.
'Our rail service will be an important part of our efforts to deliver a fantastic Christmas for our customers but the journey doesn’t stop here as we continue to increase the number of containers we transport by rail as part of our commitment to reach net-zero emissions in our operations by 2035.”
Chris Connelly, NTS deputy chief executive and rail director, said: “This is fantastic news, not only for DRS and Tesco but also for the environment. This is an example of how rail can play an integral part in the race to net zero. Each train will remove around 40 lorries from Britain’s roads and save 9,000 tonnes of CO2e, and we’re running two trains a day, seven days a week. We’re thrilled to be working with Tesco on this new service, helping them drive down their carbon footprint as they deliver for their customers throughout the UK.”