Fresh produce from Scilly, including fish or flowers, will soon be transported to the centre of London in under 24 hours.
On Monday, Great Western Railway will launch a new freight service from Penzance to Paddington, the first in around twenty years.
Robin Turner, who worked in the Newlyn fishing industry until his retirement four years ago, has been pushing for the new freight service.
Robin says live shellfish from the islands currently take two days to reach the capital. But the new service will allow them to be taken from the Gry Maritha in the afternoon and reach London the following evening, cutting out a whole day.
The fresh produce from Scilly will be kept in a large compartment in the train’s engine area, which isn’t normally used. There are four services a day direct to London.
Robin says the train company took some convincing over the idea and his team pointed out that getting freight off the roads was particularly important in the summer, when Cornwall’s main routes are congested.
He also contacted some “political heavyweights” who were keen to encourage GWR to work up the plans as part of their new rail franchise.
Robin says the way London clients purchase produce is now based around buying consortia, so our producers need to work closely with them, meeting these buyers and tailoring the service to their needs.
That’s why when the produce arrives in London it will be delivered to buyers in a new, eco-friendly electric truck.
The freight service will be launched at a breakfast buffet reception in Penzance on Monday.
MP Derek Thomas will load the first consignment of fresh and processed shellfish on to the 10am train, which should arrive in the capital just after 3pm where there’ll be another celebration of the link.
Cllr Marian Bennett will represent Scilly at that event.
On 16th March there’ll be a full launch of the scheme at the House of Commons, where Scilly suppliers will be invited to meet with potential customers.