Cumbrian-based rail freight operator Direct Rail Services (DRS) is playing a vital role in delivering Christmas across the country.

DRS’s freight trains will be transporting everything from Christmas crackers to wrapping paper. New figures reveal that rail freight is set to play a key role in the run up to Christmas this year delivering millions of tonnes of festive goods to shops around the country.

Almost a third of Tesco’s Christmas range will reach their shelves by rail freight including: nearly 8 million bottles of wine, more than 350,000 Christmas crackers, 80,000 Christmas trees, half a million boxes of lights, nearly 5 million gift wrapping accessories, around 1.5m boxes of decorations and more than 1.5 million Christmas cards.

Chris Connelly, managing director for DRS, said: “Every month we transport around 12,000 containers of vital goods across the country to ensure shelves are stocked and Christmas presents are available.

“Using our state-of-the-art Class 88 locomotives We can move huge loads hundreds of miles and, when running on overhead electricity, with zero exhaust emissions, making it absolutely fantastic for the environment.”

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions for the 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, ensuring families have everything they need to celebrate in style. 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.”

In the last four weeks alone, freight trains have transported more than 1.6m tonnes of intermodal goods on almost 3,700 trains. This year, freight trains will deliver festive food, drink, decorations and toys across the country, and also transport the millions of Christmas cards sent to loved ones as well as the all-important letters to Father Christmas.

Alessandra Bellini, Tesco chief customer officer, said: “Whether it’s dodgy DIY haircuts or fibbing to the kids for a little peace and quiet, we’ve all had to improvise a little in 2020, which has led to some less-than-perfect (but perfectly understandable) behaviour. That’s why this year, at Tesco there is no naughty list, and we want to make sure the nation celebrates in style, whatever that means to them. Rail helps us keep our shelves stocked with everything from brilliant gifts and decorations, to the finest festive food and drink, and almost a third of our Christmas range makes its way across the UK by train.”