TESCO has launched an innovative new rail freight service in Wales in partnership with local businesses to cut its CO2 emissions.

The rail service is already being run six days a week by a partnership comprising of FSEW, Stobart Rail Freight, Bob Martin (UK) Ltd, Freightliner and Tesco.

The train itself is managed by Stobart Rail Freight and transports ‘swap-body’ containers which are delivered to the rail freight depots by lorry and simply lifted between lorry and train. The trains travel between Magor and Daventry, where Tesco has its main rail connected UK distribution centre.

Geoff Tomlinson, of FSEW, said: “Tesco is always keen to seize every opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint and we saw an opportunity to help them do so here.

“Each train journey takes 40 lorries off the road which reduces CO2 emissions as the rail service is much more fuel efficient. It also reduces traffic congestion and depending on the amount of freight transported, could save Tesco money too.

“The back-haul, with the train returning to the Midlands, then creates further opportunities for other businesses in South Wales to transport their own freight by rail at a reduced rate which gives them the chance to cut their own carbon emissions and costs and reduce congestion at the same time.

“Manufacturer of pet health and hygiene products, Bob Martin (UK) Ltd, has been an integral partner in this project and helped us pilot the back-haul scheme by sending its goods to Daventry and then on to another distribution centre near Glasgow. They have been using the service since June and are delighted with it. Now other businesses from all over South Wales are coming on board to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Steven Clarke, Primary Network Manager, Tesco said: “The development of the Tesco rail network plays an integral part in our environmental objective of reducing our carbon emissions by 50% by the end of 2012, and to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“The start-up of the Daventry to South Wales train has been a key driver towards achieving this goal. By working closely with FSEW, we are able to make this lane cost effective as their knowledge of the local market enables us to operate loads in both directions, which is sometimes a hindrance with rail development. So far, it has been a great success.”

Liam Martin, Managing Director, Stobart Rail Freight said: “This is a great example of national and local businesses working in partnership to deliver greener transport solutions. We hope to be able to build on the good work already done and are keen for other companies in the South Wales area to take advantage of this train service.”

Will Steele, Operations Director at Bob Martin (UK) Ltd said: “Bob Martin (UK) Ltd has been very pleased to participate in this forward thinking initiative. The identification and implementation of an opportunity to combine several key objectives – reduced environmental impact, improved customer service, and improved economic efficiencies, has proven to be an extremely encouraging development. Everyone involved has displayed impressive enthusiasm and determination, making the process of turning concept into reality a rewarding one.”

In order to quantify the environmental benefits of rail transport, industry analysts have estimated that HGVs typically produce 63g CO² for every tonne of freight transported every kilometre, in comparison with 26.4g CO² per tonne per kilometre for rail freight. This represents a reduction of nearly 60% in CO² emissions per train journey.