The railway across the South East is carrying thousands of tonnes of goods by freight to support the economy and to keep supermarkets stocked up with essential supplies.

Last week, 381 freight trains carried goods such as fuel to power stations, food for supermarkets, medicines and household waste across the Network Rail Southern region, carrying a total 261,191 tonnes of freight.

The region covers the major port in Southampton and the Channel Tunnel in Kent, as well as the counties of Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey, Devon, Wiltshire and Berkshire, and includes key freight routes including Southampton to Reading, and Lewisham to Clapham Junction, and the West London line to Acton and beyond.

Many housebuilding and engineering projects are routed through Kent and Sussex transporting materials such as aggregate and sand and building materials. The transportation of sand is particularly popular in the Southern region, with terminals including Angerstein Wharf in South East London.

As the coronavirus pandemic goes on, Network Rail’s priority is to keep vital supply routes, including the lines which service the major ports, open.

Critical to this are frontline specialists, such as signallers and maintenance teams, without whom the railway cannot operate.

 John Halsall, managing director for Network Rail Southern region, said: “Rail freight is playing a vital role in supporting our economy as we continue to battle coronavirus.

“It is essential we keep freight services running so that goods can be delivered to supermarkets, power stations are fuelled and crucial upgrades on the rail network continue so we can keep key workers moving.

“The railway’s own key workers, including signallers and maintenance teams, are working day in day out in this national effort to keep the rail network and support the country through this challenging time.”