Tesco revealed plans to move some of its freight off road and onto rail.

The plans were announced as the UK retail giant opened a GBP93m (US$182.6m) distribution centre in Scotland.

Based in West Lothian, the distribution centre will serve Tesco stores across Scotland and Northern Ireland. It will employ 1,700 people.

Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy took the opportunity to unveil a partnership with the Scottish government that will see an estimated 13,000 road journeys each year avoided as the retailer utilises a rail link from Livingstone to Inverness.

“Tesco is committed to helping the environment and by moving this freight onto rail,” Sir Terry said. “This shows just how ambitious Tesco is when it comes to cutting our environmental footprint, while delivering the very best for our customers.”

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The rail freight will be operated by the Stobart Group and is due to start by September.

Six days a week, Stobart will collect goods from Tesco’s distribution centre at Livingston and deliver them to Grangemouth rail terminal where they will be loaded onto a train for Inverness.

The journey will then be completed taking the goods by road to various Tesco stores.