EVERY 24 hours throughout the coronavirus crisis 188,000 tonnes of critical supplies, including food, fuel and medicine, are being transported along the West Cost main line.

Every week over 1.13million tonnes of supplies are moved between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.

Despite passenger services reducing in recent weeks, customer demand for critical supplies has remained consistent, and the freight industry is standing together with Network Rail to keep key supply lines open and trains moving.

Tim Shoveller, managing director for North West and Central, said: “Rail freight has never mattered more than now for the people of Britain. Our job is to continue moving critical supplies where they’re needed - keeping supermarket shelves stocked, hospital medicine cupboards full, power stations fuelled.

“Our frontline ‘key workers’, including signallers, control room staff and track engineers are the hidden heroes in this national team effort. They are helping NHS medics to save lives and keeping shop shelves stocked, and I’m proud of them.”

Freight plays a crucial role in keeping the country’s lights on. Trains carry biomass from Liverpool docks to the Drax power station in Yorkshire, as well as petroleum from Scotland to Dalston in Cumbria and from Humberside to Kingsbury Oil Terminal in the West Midlands.

Royal Mail trains continue to take parcels and post between Wembley and Shieldmuir, Glasgow.

Every 24 hours, 18,500 tonnes of bananas, pasta, loo roll and other essentials pass over the England to Scottish border at Gretna in freight trains.

Maggie Simpson, director general of Rail Freight Group, said: “The rail freight industry is working flat out to make sure essential supplies are available on supermarket shelves, that the lights stay on and that the warehouses have all the goods we need for online shopping.

“It is a real testament to all our staff, and those at Network Rail and across the railway for keeping up with changing demand and helping the whole of the UK in these difficult times.”

A reduced timetable is currently running on the railway network.