Stobart Rail, in partnership with Tesco, has launched a rail freight service which will operate six days a week from Grangemouth to Inverness.
The Scottish government allocated more than £3 million of funding to parties connected with the service, which is designed to ease congestion on the A9 trunk road and reduce damage to the environment.
The service is expected to take more than 13,000 lorry journeys off the A9 route each year, which is the equivalent of 1.67 million lorry miles and 827,000 litres of fuel.
Stewart Stevenson, Scottish government transport minister, who opened the service today (20th January), said: “Projects such as this make an important contribution towards achieving our ambitious target of reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, as part of the most ambitious climate change legislation anywhere in the world.
“I would like to see more and more Scottish businesses think about their freight priorities. If they do, we will see great environmental benefits and remove even more traffic from our congested roads.”
An environmentally-friendly Class 66 locomotive operated by Direct Raul Services will be at the head of the train which will pull 20 Stobart Rail-designed 45 foot curtain-sided containers.
The company will collect goods from Tesco’s new one million square foot distribution centre in Livingston, deliver them to Grangemouth rail terminal, operated by WH Malcolm, where they will then be loaded onto a train leaving for Inverness at 5am.
The train is scheduled to arrive at John G Russell’s Inverness rail terminal at 11.01am for onward transfer to various Tesco stores around Inverness, Aviemore, Wick, Dongwall, Elgin, Thurso, Ullapool and Forres.
The journey will then be repeated in reverse for southbound traffic to Grangemouth.
Stobart Rail was awarded a Freight Facilities Grant to go towards the capital cost of purchasing its inter-modal containers and a grant under the Rail Environmental Benefits Procurement Scheme.