Photo courtesy of Tesco

Tesco sees power in moving produce by rail while saving on emissions

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Through the end of the year, Tesco is moving fresh fruits and vegetables by refrigerated rail seven days a week under a new agreement with Direct Rail Services.

The service, which started just prior to Christmas, marks the first time the retailer has transported via refrigerated freight using British railways. Brussels sprouts, parsnips, carrots, onions and oranges are just some of the items being moved by low carbon-dioxide rail two times each day.

 “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,” Jason Tarry, Tesco UK and ROI CEO said. “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.”

The fruits and veg are travelling some 415 miles from Tilbury to Coatbridge utilising Direct Rail’s trains which emit no exhaust or greenhouse gases. Tesco officials say it will spare the roads of some 17,000 containers and emissions that add up to close to 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“This is an example of how rail can play an integral part in the race to net zero,” Chris Connelly, NTS Deputy CEO and Rail Director, said. “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.”


The service aligns with Tesco’s efforts to trim carbon emissions down to net zero by 2035. This initiative is 75% more efficient than transport via lorries. Each trip made by rail is the equivalent of 40 lorries moving those items. Tesco says in 2021 it boosted the amount of containers on all products by around 50%.

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