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Freight’s Christmas deliveries surge

Rail freight is playing an even more important role in delivering Christmas this year, transporting millions of decorations, trees and bottles of wine. 

Freight’s kept hard at work supporting the country throughout the pandemic and will now helping you get everything you need to celebrate the festive period. 

Wine, crackers and millions of Christmas cards 

Almost a third of Tesco’s Christmas range will reach the shelves by rail freight – a 70% increase on last year, according to Tesco. 

The supermarket operator’s increasing the amount of its goods transported by rail freight to boost reliability and reduce emissions. It follows news from Tesco in September that it would invest £5m in its new rail freight equipment. 

Its Christmas goods delivered by freight includes: 

  • nearly eight million bottles of wine 
  • more than 350,000 Christmas crackers 
  • 80,000 Christmas trees 
  • half a million boxes of lights 
  • almost five million gift wrapping accessories 
  • about 1.5m boxes of decorations  
  • more than 1.5m Christmas cards.

The railway played a vital role throughout the pandemic in getting key workers where they were needed, with rail freight keeping supermarkets stocked and power stations fuelled as more people worked from home.  

Now that covid-19 will mean a very different Christmas for many people across the country, rail companies are working hard to ensure people have everything they need for the holidays. 

Graphic of a freight train, with a snowman in the background and Christmas trees in front of the railway line. the copy reads "10% more goods are transported in the run up to Christmas - by GB Railfreight"

We typically see a surge in intermodal imports to Britain from October to December to meet the Christmas demand.

This year, other factors have added to the activity, including the extra importation of personal protection equipment (PPE) through Felixstowe and the stockpiling of some goods ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period. This has led to container ports becoming busier in recent weeks. 


Robert Nisbet, director of Nations and Regions for trade body Rail Delivery Group said: “It’s been a challenging year for many people across Britain so we’re happy that rail freight can play a central role in delivering Christmas cheer …

“With only a fraction of the emissions compared to road haulage, every tree, pudding and toy transported by rail is helping to make this a green Christmas.” 

Environmental benefits 

The amount of intermodal freight transported has increased since last year and by almost 20% over the last decade to 6.79bn kilometre-tonnes of intermodal rail freight in the financial year ending March, according to the Office of Road and Rail. 

This has meant significant benefits for the environment. Each freight train can carry as many as 76 heavy goods vehicles with only a fraction of the emissions meaning a modal shift from road haulage to rail. 

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