The railway across Wessex, Kent and Sussex 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 have carried goods such as fuel to power stations, food for supermarkets, medicines and household waste across the Network Rail Southern region and carried a total 261,191 tonnes of vital supplies.

Freight trains have travelled almost 45,000 miles across the rail network which is the equivalent of more than 1.5 times around the world.

The region covers the major port in Southampton and the Channel Tunnel in Kent as well as the home counties of Sussex, Hampshire, Surrey, Devon, Wiltshire and Berkshire.

With a reduced passenger service for key workers and the increased demand for goods to be delivered by rail, we have prioritised a number of key freight routes including Southampton to Reading, and Lewisham to Clapham Junction which links to the West London line.

Many housebuilding and engineering projects are routed through Kent and Sussex transporting materials such as aggregate and sand and building materials. The transporting of sand is particularly unique to the Southern region.

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.”