Network Rail has announced during the Coronavirus pandemic that every 24 hours, 188,000 tonnes of freight, including food, fuel and medicine, is being moved by rail between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.
This equates to 1.13m tonnes every week, with most of it being transported along the West Coast Mainline – the busiest mix-use railway in Europe.
Normally, freight trains go unnoticed, but with Britain in the middle of a crisis, locked down due to the Coronavirus, the importance of freight trains comes more significant as the days go by.
Despite passenger services reducing in recent weeks, customer demand for critical supplies has remained consistent.
Freight plays a crucial role in keeping the country’s lights on – trains carry biomass from Liverpool to the Drax power station in Yorkshire, as well as petrol which is transported from Scotland to Dalston, in Cumbria, and from Humberside to Kingsbury Oil Terminal in the Midlands.
Royal Mail trains continue to take parcels and post between Wembley and Shieldmuir, Glasgow.
Every 24 hours, 18,500 tonnes of bananas, pasta, loo roll and other essentials pass over the England – Scottish border at Gretna in freight trains.
Freight companies are looking at how they can reconfigure the trains in order to get more containers per train.
What did the officials say?
Tim Shoveller, managing director for North West & Central, said:
“Rail freight has never mattered more than now for the people of Britain. Our job is to continue moving critical supplies where they’re needed – keeping supermarket shelves stocked, hospital medicine cupboards full, power stations fuelled.
“Our frontline ‘key workers’, including signallers, control room staff and track engineers are the hidden heroes in this national team effort. They are helping NHS medics to save lives and keeping shop shelves stocked, and I’m proud of them.”
Maggie Simpson, director-general of Rail Freight Group, said:
“The rail freight industry is working flat out to make sure essential supplies are available on supermarket shelves, that the lights stay on and that the warehouses have all the goods we need for online shopping.
“It is a real testament to all our staff, and those at Network Rail and across the railway for keeping up with changing demand and helping the whole of the UK in these difficult times.”
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