Rail Minister praises Tesco's temperature-controlled rail freight service

The UK's Rail Minister visited Tesco's UK-Europe rail hub in south Essex after the retailer's £5million investment in new rail freight services.

Wendy Morton MP, Rail Minister, and Jackie Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock, visited Tesco’s UK-Europe rail hub at the Port of Tilbury last week following the investment.

Tesco’s new investment, building on £2.5m of investment in recent years, includes the introduction of a new temperature-controlled rail freight service.

This will support Tesco in delivering fresh produce from suppliers in Europe, through the Port of Tilbury, and on across the UK to distribution centres, and on to stores.

As part of the visit, Ms Morton and Ms Doyle-Price were given a tour of the site, saw one of the trains being loaded first-hand and heard about Tesco’s commitment of net zero emissions across its value chain by 2050. Minister Morton said: “Rail freight plays a vital role in safeguarding the resilience of our supply chains whilst taking traffic off our roads, offering a cleaner, greener alternative for businesses nationwide. “It’s fantastic to see a major company wholeheartedly backing our railways by investing in new equipment.

“This Government has committed to net zero by 2050, and so, I welcome Tesco’s £5million investment as they work towards becoming a zero-carbon business.” Tesco’s rail operation in Tilbury is part of a wider economic contribution to Thurrock of £135million per year, and the company supports over 3,000 jobs.

Ms Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock, said: “Thurrock is the logistics capital of the UK. There is a higher concentration of logistics jobs than in any other area of the UK.

“We have most to gain from moving freight from road to rail. I am very pleased to see this investment by Tesco.” Nick Allen, Tesco distribution director, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Transport Minister to Tilbury to tell her about the far-reaching plans we have to increase our rail distribution and reduce our carbon emissions significantly.

“Tesco is the biggest retail user of rail in the UK and it’s the most efficient way of moving our goods quickly, so the benefits are practical for our business and for the environment.

“Because of this, we are also planning to increase our efficiency of goods transportation by rail between the North and South of England, eventually replacing the transportation of 40 truckloads by road per day.”

MP Jackie Doyle-Price with Ms Morton and Jon Gore (Tesco). Photo from tigerBond Tesco says its new rail service will save circa 9,000 tonnes of CO2 each year and remove more than 7.5 million truck miles from the road.

The service aims to also increase speed and efficiency, as well as raise the amount of cases delivered each week via rail to more than 5.5 million.

Ross McKissock, unitised director at the Port of Tilbury, said: “Forth Ports’ rail freight strategy is focused on streamlining the path of fast moving goods to the heart of the country’s key markets.

“Tesco’s new refrigerated trains are a perfect fit for the UK’s newest port, Tilbury2, which is a growing hub for European trade and intermodal connections. With daily rail services running to the UK’s largest retailer hubs and capacity to take the longest 775-meter trains on the network, we offer market-leading low carbon distribution solutions, enabling clean, green and sustainable supply chains.”