Amtrak Express Parcels, the franchised parcel network, is delivering thousands of rare plants to gardeners across the country following a major contract with an award-winning nursery. Claire Austin Hardy Plants specialise in Irises and Peonies and the Amtrak Franchise is currently providing next day deliveries of hundreds of plants each week.

Daily collections are made by Amtrak’s local depot near Telford and marked for Amtrak’s special handle-with-care service designed for delicate goods. The boxed plants are routed through a purpose-built national hub that also handles goods such as wine, cut flowers and other perishables.

Claire Austin is the daughter of David Austin; the famous name in roses. The Shropshire family diversified into other plants and Claire Austin Hardy Plants was formed as a separate enterprise in 2001. Appointed as the National Collection holder of Bearded Irises, over 1000 varieties of Iris are grown at the nursery in Shifnal, Shropshire. Amtrak deliveries are set to be boosted shortly with the opening of a second nursery by Claire Austin in nearby Shawbury.

By providing special handling facilities for delicate goods, Amtrak is a popular choice for retailers and e-retailers with delicate goods that need to be delivered to homes. The Claire Austin plants, which are ordered from a catalogue and via the company’s website ( are routed to Antrak’s dedicated fragile goods distribution centre for sorting by hand and aided by special wireless scanning technology.

“Our plants are all hand-nurtured and are treated and boxed with great care at the nursery. We therefore need to ensure they arrive in exactly the same condition. Amtrak’s next day service has proved to be perfect for us; ensuring plants are handled properly on route. Our customers can order one day and receive their plants the next day. They think the Amtrak next day delivery service is great and it has been a big boost to our business; allowing us to literally expand nationwide” says Claire Austin.

The Claire Austin contract is managed by Amtrak’s Telford depot operated by Rory and Helen Howard; another family business that has recently taken over Amtrak Wolverhampton franchise, doubling their business overnight

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