Brakes claims it has become the first foodservice provider to transport produce to the UK using rail.

Fresh produce from Spain is being rail-freighted from Valencia to the UK using the Channel Tunnel, and is loaded on to Brakes lorries at Dagenham.

Brakes said the initiative, in conjunction with Stobart Rail Freight Service, not only benefited the environment by reducing its carbon footprint but was also faster than road.

It would extend the service to other European regions and product categories if the initiative was ­successful.

"Brakes' decision was inspired by the need to reduce food road miles and increase the speed of deliveries from the Continent to ensure optimum freshness," said product supply director Sean Negus.

"The first delivery was seamless, with the cargo arriving half a day quicker than using traditional road haulage."