DRS - Tesco freight train

Over 1.5m Christmas cards & more to be delivered by freight this Christmas

As the demand for goods increases around Christmas time, you would think you’re like for seeing an increase in lorries on the road, contributing to more CO2 emissions.

But new figures show that rail freight is set to play a key role in the run-up to Christmas this year by delivering millions of tonnes of festive goods to shops across the country.

With every freight train taking 76 lorries off the road, almost a third of Tesco’s Christmas range will reach their shelves by rail freight including a huge amount of Christmas crackers, trees and bottles of wine, as the supermarket giants play a part to help tackle the climate emergency.

RDG Freightmas statistic

They have also announced a £5 million investment in September in their new rail freight equipment.

This year 30% of their Christmas products will be transported by rail which is 70% more than last year including:

  • Nearly 8 million bottles of wine
  • Over 350,000 Christmas crackers
  • 80,000 Christmas trees
  • Half a million boxes of lights
  • Nearly 5 million gift wrapping accessories
  • Around 1.5m boxes of decorations
  • Over 1.5 million Christmas cards

Rail freight has played a momentous role throughout the pandemic, keeping supermarkets stocked and power stations fuelled as more people worked from home. Now that Covid-19 will mean a very different Christmas for many people across the country, rail companies are working hard to ensure people have everything they need for the festive period.

In November alone, freight trains transported more than 1.6m tonnes of intermodal goods on almost 3,700 trains. This year, freight trains will transport festive food, drink, decorations and toys across the country, and also deliver the millions of Christmas cards sent to loved ones as well as important letters to Father Christmas.

Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions for the Rail Delivery Group said: “It’s been a challenging year for many people across Britain so we’re happy that rail freight can play a central role in delivering Christmas cheer, ensuring families have everything they need to celebrate in style. With only a fraction of the emissions compared to road haulage, every tree, pudding and toy transported by rail is helping to make this a green Christmas.” 

Chris Connelly, Managing Director for Direct Rail Services who operate rail freight transportation for Tesco said: “Every month we transport around 12,000 containers of vital goods across the country to ensure shelves are stocked and Christmas presents available. 

“Using our state-of-the-art Class 88 locomotives we can move huge loads hundreds of miles and, when running on overhead electricity, with zero exhaust emissions, making it absolutely fantastic for the environment.”

RDG Freightmas statistic

Alessandra Bellini, Tesco Chief Customer Officer, said: “Whether it’s dodgy DIY haircuts or fibbing to the kids for a little peace and quiet, we’ve all had to improvise a little in 2020, which has led to some less-than-perfect (but perfectly understandable) behaviour.

“That’s why this year, at Tesco there is no naughty list, and we want to make sure the nation celebrates in style, whatever that means to them. Rail helps us keep our shelves stocked with everything from brilliant gifts and decorations, to the finest festive food and drink, and almost a third of our Christmas range makes its way across the U.K. by train.”

Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP whose constituency Daventry contains the international rail freight terminal DIRFT said: “The sheer volume of festive goods that are currently being transported across the country daily is reflective of the crucial role that the rail freight industry plays at this time of year.

“Rail freight has been fundamental in ensuring that the country, and the economy, has kept moving through the pandemic, and I am thankful for everyone working so hard to keep Christmas on track.”

Images: Rail Delivery Group 

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