The Co-operative Food is trialling the use of rail to take lorry loads of freight off the motorways, saving more than a third of a million road miles a year and reducing carbon emissions.
A daily rail service is carrying produce between Daventry, close to The Co-operatives National Distribution Centre at Coventry, and a rail freight terminal at Mossend, near its depot at Cumbernauld, in Scotland.
It is the first time The Co-operative has used rail freight on such a scale. Each train takes two large containers, carrying the same volume that would normally require two HGVs to each make round trips of almost 650 miles an annual saving of around 338,000 miles.
Instead, containers are taken, each weekday afternoon, by road from Coventry to the rail freight terminal at Daventry. The daily train, operated by freight carriers W.H. Malcolm, travels overnight, arriving at Mossend, in Lanarkshire, in the early hours of the following morning.
From Mossend, the containers are taken by road the short distance to Cumbernauld, before, ultimately, the contents are delivered to Co-operative food stores across Scotland.
Eventually, the switch from road to rail could save as many as eight HGVs making return journeys each day, saving more than 1.3 million road miles each year.
Mark Leonard, Regional Head of Logistics for The Co-operative Food Supply Chain Logistics, said: Were trialling this to see how effective it is. Its still early days, but so far its going well. It has the potential to save significant amounts of carbon each year, while at the same time ensuring efficient deliveries to Scotland.
As part of The Co-operative Group, combating climate change is a key priority, and we are looking for ways of reducing carbon emissions across all our businesses. Logistics has a major role to play in that, and steps like putting freight onto rail rather than road can have a significant impact.