GBRf employee wins Lifetime Achievement Award at the end of a 60-year career

GB Railfreight are thrilled to announce that longstanding colleague Chris Hopcroft MBE was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award at last night’s (27 February) Rail Business Awards ceremony in London.

Managing Director John Smith collected the award on behalf of Chris.

Chris, who started working when he was 16 has spent the last 60 years on the railways, providing outstanding work and dedication to all his roles, most recently as a Train Manager for GBRf. Throughout his long career he has trained up colleagues and passed on vital technical knowledge of operations.

His passion for, and service to, the railways was recognised in 1994 with an MBE for services to the safety of young people. Throughout his career, Chris has worked tirelessly to ensure every job he’s ever had was done to the best of his ability. The commitment that he has demonstrated every day since first starting has shown him to be an exemplary figure and inspired colleagues across the industry.

Now 76, Chris only retired at the end of 2019. To thank him for his years of service, the GBRf team named a loco after him in a special ceremony attended by his family and close friends.

GBRf Managing Director John Smith who collected the award on Chris’s behalf said:

We are absolutely delighted for Chris and his family that he won the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Rail Business Awards. Having started off at the bottom of the ladder and worked his way up, Chris has boundless experience, and knows the sector better than anyone.

“Chris contributed to our industry over a huge period of time, and he has been the consummate professional throughout. He has a reputation in the industry for being a highly reliable and skilled colleague who makes time to pass on his expertise and support modernisation in all aspects of the railway.

“We are incredibly proud of him and this is a fantastic way to end a 60-year career on the railways.”

Chris Hopcroft said:

“I am over the moon for this award. Thank you to the Rail Business Awards and to GB Railfreight for putting my name forward.

“The railways have been my life and I have loved every minute of the last 60 years.  The last 10 years of my career working with GBRf have been the most rewarding of my career. I would like to thank everyone at GBRf for making my last few years on the railways so special.”

GBRf Scoop a Hat Trick of Awards at Rail Business Awards

GB Railfreight are celebrating a successful night at Thursday’s (27th Feb) Rail Business Awards with the business taking home a haul of three awards.

The team scooped the ‘Training and Education Excellence award’ recognising the value that the business’s £1 million investment in two class 66 simulators in Peterborough has brought both to GBRf’s training programme and the availability of training simulators for the whole rail freight sector.

GBRf were also given the accolade of ‘Rail Business of the Year’.  This is the third time the business has won the award, which is a recognition of GBRf’s long term commitment to innovation and excellence in customer service.

Former GBRf employee Chris Hopcroft MBE was awarded a lifetime achievement award, to mark a 60-year career on the railway and a commitment not just to the railway, but to the community, with a particular focus on educating young people on rail safety.

Chris has provided outstanding dedication in all his roles, most recently as one of GBRf’s Train Managers. His passion for, and service to, the railways was recognised in 1994 with an MBE for services to the safety of young people.

GBRf Managing Director John Smith said:

“Our success at the Rail Business Awards underlines the quality and dedication of the GBRf team and the strong relations we have with our customers and partners.

“The Training and Education Excellence award’ for the class 66 simulators at Peterborough marks the first step of our investment towards creating a world class training centre which is transforming our ability to develop the next generation of GBRf Train Managers, but will also act as resource in training the next generation of rail professionals, supporting the growth of the rail freight sector.

“I am proud of our success in taking home the ‘Rail Business of the Year award’ for the third time.  I know that the GBRf team prides itself in delivering continued excellence in the service we deliver.  The business has enjoyed rapid growth over the years, but we remain true to our key values of delivering for our customers and a supportive environment for all those who work for the business.

“More important than either of the above was the final award for Lifetime Achievement. This was given to our own, recently retired, Train Manager Chris Hopcroft MBE following his 60 years of service to the industry.”

GB Railfreight Holds Recruitment Day for Military Service Leavers in Peterborough

On Wednesday 12 February, GB Railfreight, in partnership with the Ministry of Defence’s Career Transition Partnership (CTP), held their first recruitment day specifically for military service leavers at its newly opened locomotive simulator facility in Peterborough

GB Railfreight is the third largest rail freight operator in the UK and one of the fastest growing companies in the railway sector, transporting goods for a wide range of customers. As the business continues to grow, GBRf are seeking to recruit ex-military staff for Groundstaff and Trainee Train Manager (Driver) positions in various locations within the UK including, Peterborough, Doncaster, London, Scotland and Midlands.

The recruitment day provided military service leavers a broad understanding of the exciting opportunities available for a railway career within GBRf and how the military skill set transfers to the sector.

Service leavers had the opportunity to hear from the GBRf team and other service leavers who have successfully made the transition into GB Railfreight, whilst also learning about current and future opportunities within the business. In addition, attendees had a chance to experience what it’s like to drive a GBRf locomotive by taking part in a test drive using one of the facility’s simulators unveiled last year.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“We are on a recruitment drive for new people to join our growing team across the country and the skill set that military service leavers proses make them great candidates for a career with us. We partnered with CTP to make our recruitment day a success and welcomed 30 ex-military personnel to our brand-new locomotive simulator in Peterborough to show them what a life on the railways looks like. I hope many will consider joining our ranks in the future!”

Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris MP said:

“Every part of society should honour the debt we owe those who’ve served our country. Getting our veterans into quality jobs in our rail sector not only provides security for them and their families but boosts the economy of global Britain.

 “I’m proud that this Government recently announced a new Veteran’s railcard, extending discounted fares to more than 830,000 former service personnel, and delighted that GB Railfreight, and the wider rail industry, is doing its bit.”

For further information about working with GB Railfreight, please email Gemma Platt on

GB Railfreight delighted as HS2 receives green light

GB Railfreight has expressed its delight and relief that the high-speed line from London to Birmingham received the go-ahead this morning following the publication of the Oakervee Review.

HS2, which was green-lighted in a statement to the House of Commons by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, following a meeting of the Cabinet, will begin construction in the coming weeks, over a decade after it was originally proposed.

GB Railfreight, one of the fastest growing companies in the railway sector, has been preparing to support construction logistics, including removing spoil and waste, and delivering inbound materials.

The Prime Minister’s announcement was followed by the publication of the Government-commissioned Oakervee Review into HS2, which concluded that “on balance Ministers should proceed” with the project as the “original rationale for HS2 still holds”.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, who submitted a response to the Oakervee Review, said:

“I am delighted and relieved the Government has given the green light to the project. HS2 will be the first new railway constructed north of London for over a century, creating much needed capacity and connections across the North and Midlands. There is no other viable alternative to the project, as both the Oakervee Review and the Prime Minister have acknowledged.

 “By signing off on the scheme, the Government has committed to expanding capacity beyond just passenger services. The decision will free up extra capacity on the West Coast Mainline which will help the growth of rail freight, supporting economic growth across the UK and helping the delivery of the Government’s targets to decarbonise the economy by supporting the shift of freight from road to more sustainable rail services.

 “Delivering HS2 will, in the long term, support the UK’s regional cities and towns to prosper and connect to other surrounding areas. I applaud the Prime Minister for making the right decision rather than delay any further.”

GB Railfreight resumes services between Cricklewood and Calvert

GB Railfreight are thrilled to confirm that in December 2019 it resumed services from Cricklewood to Calvert.

The rail freight operator is operating services five times a week between S Walsh and Sons waste transfer station, off Brent Terrace at Cricklewood, to FCC Environment’s landfill site in Buckinghamshire, transporting building and construction waste.

The trains carry around 1,500 tonnes of soil and rubble from major projects such as the Brent Cross redevelopment and preliminary works being undertaken for the construction of HS2. Since Cricklewood opened in 2015, more than 1 million metric tonnes of building and construction waste has been moved out of London by rail from what was previously known as the North London Soils Hub.

The contract will also ensure fewer journeys are made on roads as construction waste will be easily removed by GBRf trains. This will contribute to reducing carbon emissions, especially with the Government’s stated aim of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

GBRf are committed to increasing the amount of goods and materials transported via rail freight, reducing emissions and delivering a more sustainable logistics solution. An average freight train removes 80 HGV journeys from roads every day. They already move 40 per cent of all construction material into London, and there is the potential for this to grow, reducing lorry miles on the capital’s roads.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“We are delighted to have recommenced services from Cricklewood. We look forward to working with S Walsh and Sons in the future to build a successful partnership.

 “This contract is also an important step towards reducing traffic in London and, by extension, improving air quality in the capital. These services provide a vital alternative to road transport and each one removes circa 60 lorries from London’s roads. This is even more important in the context of reducing carbon emissions if we are to reach the Government’s ambitious net zero target by 2050, and we at GBRf are delighted to be able to play our part.”