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Supermarket Steps Up Rail Freight To Keep Shelved Stocked

Tesco supermarket has increased its reliance on rail freight deliveries, as the lorry driver shortage shows no sign of abating. The Guardian reports that the supermarket chain stepped up its use of rail transport for goods deliveries by almost 40%.

The strategy appears to be paying off, as Tesco’s shelves have remained well-stocked in recent weeks, unlike many of their rivals, who have been hit by shortages. Tesco currently have five rail freight deliveries a week of fresh produce from Spain, and will add two more in the near future, including one between Spain and Scotland.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “As industry supply chains came under increasing pressure, we were able to leverage our strong supplier relationships and distribution capability to maintain good levels of availability for customers, contributing to our market outperformance.”

Railway News reports that the amount of freight on British railways has now returned to pre-pandemic levels. Figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show that between April and June 2021, a total of 4.33 billion net tonne-kilometres of rail freight was moved across the network, an increase of 35.5 per cent from the same time last year.

Construction products were moved by rail freight in the largest amounts, partly fuelled by the high level of demand from the HS2 construction project.  Domestic intermodal goods, including to and from ports, also had a strong demand, despite delays and disruption to the global shipping freight network, which looks set to continue into next year.

Meanwhile, Tesco plans to increase its current rail use from 65,000 containers a year to 90,000 by November or December this year. The reliance on rail has helped them to maintain healthy profit levels, and cut prices for customers despite rising delivery costs.


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