Toyota opts for rail

The automaker is using a sustainable logistics solution from DB Cargo UK and Groupe CAT.

DB Cargo UK and French company Groupe CAT, Europe's leading vehicle logistics provider, have launched a joint service for Toyota Motor Europe to transport cars from Toton in the East Midlands to Valenciennes in northern France. This was preceded by the construction of a new transhipment terminal at the Toton site by DB Cargo UK and the procurement of a new fleet of special wagons by STVA, Groupe CAT's British subsidiary. Following a series of successful test runs, fully loaded block trains have been running between the two sites twice a week since the end of February 2022. On the outward run, the new generation of Corolla Hybrids produced at Toyota's Burnaston plant are exported to France. On the way back, cars like the Toyota Aygo, the Yaris and the new Yaris+ are imported from the Czech Republic and France to the UK to ensure the route is fully utilised.

"Freight belongs on the rails"

For Roger Neary, Chief Sales Officer at DB Cargo UK, the realisation of this project is a major milestone that follows months of teamwork by everyone involved. "Freight belongs on the rails, and this new service is the outcome of a successful partnership with DB Cargo UK, Groupe CAT and Toyota UK," Neary says. It used to take five days to transport the vehicles by road. The journey by freight train takes just 24 hours and also cuts CO2 emissions by 2,300 tonnes per year, since a single train can transport the same number of vehicles as 23 lorries. DB Cargo UK has also breathed new life into a previously unused area at the Toton site. Marie Hill, who is responsible for transformation and digitalisation at DB Cargo UK, sees the modernisation of the Toton rail hub as "a strategic win for us, as it meets all our growth and sustainability targets such as shifting traffic to rail, providing value-added logistics services and creating European corridors."

An important step on Toyota's path to carbon neutrality

Leon van der Merwe, Vice President Supply Chain at Toyota Motor Europe, sees the new route as a vital milestone in Toyota's sustainability strategy: "As a company, we are committed to progressing steadily towards carbon neutrality. Part of this is looking for ways to reduce the emissions from our vehicle production, vehicle use and vehicle logistics," says van der Merwe. "By embracing this new opportunity to use multimodal rail freight, we have found a more sustainable way to transport the low-emission hybrid electric vehicles built at our UK plant in Burnaston to our customers." 

Toyota is always working to ensure its global logistics network is carbon neutral. The latest part of this effort: the company has begun transporting vehicles by rail from Toton in the UK to northern France


For Steve Reynolds, STVA Managing Director, the new transhipment terminal is the tangible outcome of four years of work. "To carry out this project we signed a long-term lease with DB Cargo UK for the rail terminal at Toton, and we invested more than GBP 3 million (EUR 3.4 million) to upgrade our wagons." Roger Neary is also confident that close cooperation was the crucial factor enabling the creation of such a modern logistics solution: "It's a win-win situation for everyone involved, since together we have put in place an efficient and environmentally friendly rail logistics solution for one of the largest car manufacturers in the world." 

Over 800 metres of new track laid

DB Cargo UK's GBP 2.6 million (EUR 3.1 million) investment in the Toton site included the construction of a new transhipment terminal with corresponding facilities for loading and unloading. More than 800 metres of new tracks were laid and 1,100 metres of road were either rebuilt or widened to ensure first and last mile transport by lorry from the Toyota plant in Burnaston to the CT terminal in Toton. In addition, eight kilometres of white lines were painted on the asphalt, and several kilometres of cables were laid to install the necessary video monitoring and lighting on site.

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Richard Sears

Senior Communications Manager DB Cargo UK