UK carrier presents ’88’ below zero for refrigerated rail freight
Direct Rail Services, the carrier who grew out of specialising in transferring nuclear flasks, took the recent opportunity of a ministerial visit to show off something much cooler. Celebrating a new contract to carry refrigerated produce for supermarket chain Tesco, the company presented its specially liveried class 88 bi-mode electro-diesel. DRS are already using the locomotive their runs from Tilbury, near London.
As commemorative liveries go, Direct Rail Services has chosen the height of summer to roll out a wintry take on their classic ice blue colour scheme. Temperature controlled container traffic is a growth area for rail freight, and the endorsement of the largest supermarket chain in the UK is a boost for rail freight overall. The locomotive, along with other examples of the ten-strong fleet, will be deployed on theTilbury to Coatbridge intermodal service, running twice daily, seven days a week.
Continuing commitment to rail
The new service will be the first time Tesco has used refrigerated rail freight in the UK, but the supermarket chain has plenty of experience in temperature-controlled operations. Having used rail freight since 2008, the retailer is due to move into reefers on rails. “This new service reflects our continuing commitment to rail which has clear advantages for our business, our customers and the planet”, said Jason Tarry, their UK and Ireland chief executive. “Our rail service will be an important part of our efforts to deliver a fantastic Christmas for our customers.”
Planning ahead is a vital part of the retail chain, and the reliability of rail freight has given a degree of confidence to the sector. That has helped both DRS and Tesco move towards their own corporate environmental goals. “This is an example of how rail can play an integral part in the race to net zero”, said Chris Connelly, rail director and deputy cheif executive of parent company NTS. “We’re running two trains a day, seven days a week, saving 9,000 tonnes [of carbon dioxide emissions] a year. We’re working with Tesco on this new service, helping them drive down their carbon footprint as they deliver for their customers throughout the UK.”
DRS officially unveiled their newly-liveried class 88 locomotive at Tilbury recently. They and Tesco were taking part in a visit by rail minister Wendy Morton to promote the UK government’s aim of encouraging greater modal shift.