Toyota has started exporting vehicles made at its Burnaston plant in the UK to Europe on rail via the Channel Tunnel. It is also importing vehicles produced at the Valenciennes plant in France to the UK along the same route.


Toyota said it would continue to move more volumes to rail on some of its main European logistics routes by 2025

The shift to rail is cutting delivery lead times by around 50%, according to Toyota. Logistics provider Cat Group, which is working with Getlink, provider of Channel Tunnel shuttle services, will transport up to 70,000 vehicles to and from the UK annually, equal to 270 trains.

On average, six trains will depart per week. Toyota Corolla hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) produced at the Burnaston plant near Derby will be moved from the Toton rail yard in the UK to the carmaker’s Valenciennes hub and Yaris HEVs produced in France will be delivered back to Toton.   

Switching to rail will take around 8,500 trucks off the road annually, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 8,000 tonnes, according to the transport providers. That is 10% of carbon output from Toyota Motor Europe’s total logistics network. Truck freight was previously moving across the Channel via the ports of Grimsby (UK) and Zeebrugge (Belgium).  

“The start of this rail freight connection marks an important step as we look to progressively reduce carbon emissions over time, improving operations with innovative and sustainable solutions,” Jean-Christophe Deville, head of vehicle logistics at Toyota Motor Europe. “We have an ambitious plan to expand our rail usage, and this will deliver additional customer benefits with improved delivery lead-times.”  

Toyota said it would continue to move more volumes to rail on some of its main European logistics routes by 2025. The second phase of the carmaker’s rail project starts in April 2022, when it will link its Valenciennes logistics hub, the Toyota plant in Kolín, in the Czech Republic, which produces the Yaris and the new Aygo Cross.

Links will also be made across the pan-European rail network, with additional logistics routes to Italy, Spain and Turkey. The company said it anticipated saving over 7m truck haulage kilometres per year at the completion of the second phase. 

Jean-Christophe Deville will be speaking at the forthcoming Automotive Logistics and Supply Chain Europe conference, which takes place in Munich, Germany between May 2-4 this year, and which will feature discussions on sustainability in the automotive sector