GBRf extend contract with EMDL

GB Railfreight (GBRf) and Electro-Motive Diesel Limited (EMDL), a legal entity of Progress Rail, a Caterpillar Company, have signed a contract extension to the full-service provision arrangements between businesses, which have been in place since 2012.

The new contract extends the size of the GBRf fleet supported by Progress Rail. It also expands repair capacity at both the Doncaster and Peterborough depots and increases the number of field service engineers joining the team.

Representing a significant strengthening of the long-standing relationship between the two companies, this contract supports the GBRf Class 66 locomotive fleet and prepares the ground for the newly re-engineered Class 69 locomotives, the first of which was on trial at Severn Valley Railway. Additionally, Progress Rail will be fitting the innovative PR UptimeTM digital prognostic equipment to the Class 66 fleet, which serves as the next-generation analytics platform, prompting preventative maintenance and continuously improving reliability and performance.

Cementing further years of support, this contract demonstrates GBRf’s faith in Progress Rail’s technical capability and excellent service standards, which have delivered industry-leading asset utilisation to date. This deal secures a long-term future for both businesses in the ever-growing rail freight market in the United Kingdom.

GBRf Asset Director David Golding said:

“We are pleased to announce this contract extension with EMDL, a well-established and reliable partner for our business. This is a significant enhancement, which will enable GBRf to expand its operations, whilst also providing extra field service and engineering capacity the business needs.”

EMDL Sales Director Jon Caen added:

“We are delighted to be working with GB Railfreight on this exciting project. This contract extension solidifies a successful relationship and provides both companies with a long-term future. Supporting fleet maintenance digitalisation, the fitment of PR UptimeTM across the Class 66 and 69 fleets brings the most advanced analytics technology available.”

GBRf partners with Porterbrook to build 100 new wagons

Following an extended commercial exercise, GB Railfreight (GBRf) has chosen to partner with British rolling stock company, Porterbrook, for the build of 100 Greenbrier 60’ intermodal twins.

This partnership will manage the production of wagons by Greenbrier, a renowned railcar manufacturer, which will see the first batch rolling off the production line in August 2022. The manufacturing process is scheduled to supply ten intermodal twin wagons per month, meaning that the total of 100 vehicles are expected to be operational in the UK by summer 2023.

The contract will initially operate on ten-year dry lease and marks another step towards promotion of sustainable and low-carbon freight transport.

John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said:

“I am delighted to be partnering again with Porterbrook, a company at the heart of the UK’s rail network, on this exciting project. At GBRf, we always look to work with leading companies in the transport sphere and we couldn’t ask for a better partner than Porterbrook. By working together we are proving that our sector continues to combine innovation and resilience which will be vital as we move towards more sustainable modes of transport.”

“We are also thrilled to be able to work with an innovative manufacturer such as Greenbrier, and see this as a continuation of an excellent long-standing relationship”.

Mary Grant, Porterbrook CEO, said:

“We are very pleased that GBRf have chosen Porterbrook to support their ambitious intermodal expansion plans. This builds on our 15 year relationship with a truly innovative company.

“Today’s announcement also signifies a renewed commitment by Porterbrook to investing in rail-freight, which has a key role to play in reducing long distance lorry movements and supporting the Green Recovery.”

GBRf secures contract with Network Rail for Rail Innovation & Development Centre at Melton

GB Railfreight (GBRf), one of the largest rail freight operators in the UK, has struck an agreement with Network Rail for the operation of its Rail Innovation & Development Centre (RIDC) Melton at its facility in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

The contract, signed this week by GBRf Managing Director John Smith  will run from 1 April 2021 and last for four years.

RIDC Melton offers a dedicated test facility to provide safe and reliable testing environments for new and modified technology within the rail industry. This is a unique high speed test facility for the UK rail industry: it provides a safe specialised non-mainline facility for the testing, validation and commissioning of new and modified rolling stock, plant, on track machines, infrastructure, equipment and technology, away from the constraints of the mainline network.

RIDC Melton  has been purpose-built to support both high and low speed testing.  The facility provides two separate test tracks: a high-speed 13 mile test track between Melton Junction and Edwalton up to 125mph – 11 miles of this with 25kV overhead line equipment (OLE);  and a slower-speed 4 mile test track from Old Dalby to Stanton Tunnel up to 60mph with 25kV OLE and DC 4th rail capability.

Tim Hartley, Business Development Director at GB Railfreight, said:

“Winning this contract not only expands GB Railfreight’s offering to Network Rail but also to the stakeholders of RIDC Melton.  This is another diversification to our traditional business model of running freight trains but positions us really well to offer a more efficient end-to end service to all RIDC stakeholders. Innovation is at the heart of our business model, so running the operations at RIDC Melton is very exciting for us.”

GB Railfreight and Hanson announce new contract

GB Railfreight (GBRf) are delighted to announce a two-year deal with Hanson for services from Shap Quarry in Cumbria to Tuebrook in Liverpool.

GBRf will operate an average of two trains a week, having successfully trialled two services already over the last week. Each train is expected to convey approximately 1,800 tonnes of aggregate material.

GBRf and Hanson have developed the terminal from under-utilised rail land at the Merseyside site and today’s announcement marks the start of a new rail service to support Hanson’s aggregate supplies to their Liverpool sites.

The deal builds on an incredibly successful partnership between GB Railfreight and Hanson, which already sees the movement of aggregates from Shap to Hanson’s site at Ashton in Makerfield. Today’s announcement is also further proof of the resilience of the rail freight industry which has been going at full steam despite the uncertain economic outlook.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Hanson once again. Having developed this new terminal, we have put the land to good use and will strengthen our deep commercial ties with an additional service.

“Given the economic picture remains mixed, it is great that our industry and the wider infrastructure sector continue to show leadership which will stear the country back on track after COVID-19. Today’s announcement is another example of this.”

James Whitelaw, Managing Director of Hanson Aggregate said:

“This is an exciting new venture for us in conjunction with GB Railfreight (GBRf) and is part of our plan to grow our UK network of depots.”

GBRf announce new intermodal service for Maritime Transport

GB Railfreight are delighted to announce the start of a new intermodal service in partnership with Maritime Transport Ltd, running from the Port of Felixstowe to Maritime Transport’s location at Wakefield Europort.

This new service marks GBRf’s continued expansion into the intermodal market and underlines the vital role rail freight plays in delivering goods around the country. The new Felixstowe to Wakefield service represents GBRf’s seventh intermodal into a Maritime facility and will operate on a weekly basis, running Monday to Friday from the UK’s busiest container port.

The rake will initially comprise of a mix of wagon types, including two Eco Triples, two Q8s and eleven IKA Twins. The combination of a variety of wagons is significant, as it allows for enhanced flexibility, maximising the number of boxes that can be carried to better satisfy consumer demand and make more effective use of overall capacity.

This announcement also re-emphasises GBRf’s strong position as it leads the way to grow the rail freight sector at a time of unprecedented economic challenge. GB Railfreight now operates 21 intermodal services in total and the continued expansion of intermodal services in the UK reaffirms the industry’s commitment to put the UK back on track after COVID-19, while also demonstrating a sustained commitment to the decarbonisation of our economy.

John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said:

“I am thrilled to see the beginning of this new service. We are extremely proud to be able to continue our work with Maritime to deliver first-class service, which demonstrates sustained growth for our companies and shows an inherent trust in our long-standing partnership.

“Our growth in intermodal shows GBRf’s dedication to innovation, offering flexible door-to-door solutions that meet our customer’s needs, as well as a consistently reliable service.”

John Bailey, Managing Director – Intermodal and Terminals at Maritime Transport said:

“Following what has been a year of new challenges for those throughout the industry, it has been incredibly important for us as business to continue to build not just sustainable but robust solutions to ensure the stability of the supply chain. This new service is testament to this and we are very pleased to be working with GB Railfreight to deliver essential intermodal services to our customers.”

Commenting on the latest addition to the port’s roster of rail services, Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at the Port of Felixstowe, said:

“Expanding the number of rail services available to importers and exporters from the port is one of our key objectives. The Port of Felixstowe is the Northern Powerhouse’s major container gateway and approximately 50% of traffic between Felixstowe and the North moves by rail. Increasing the number of services is good for the port, good for our customers and good for the environment.

“With three dedicated rail terminals at the port we offer more rail services to more inland destinations with greater frequency than any other UK port.”

GBRf supports work to improve service to and from King’s Cross

GB Railfreight (GBRf), one of the largest rail freight operators in the UK, has been working on a project to renew the signalling system and overhead line equipment in the King’s Cross area, followed by major work to install a new simplified track design at London King’s Cross station.

This work is part of Network Rail’s  East Coast Upgrade programme, marking £1.2 billion worth of investment into significant improvements to the East Coast Main Line, which will transform journeys between London, Cambridgeshire, the North of England and Scotland.

Between February and May 2021, over 100 trains will be running from Doncaster and Whitemoor LDCs, making this the largest possession site that GBRf will have contributed to at any one time.  The peak will see more than 25 GB Railfreight locos on site and is scheduled for Monday 1 March. The quick turnaround demonstrates GBRf’s ability to accommodate the varying needs of its customers and is a sign of the company’s overall resilience at a time of economic and business uncertainty.

Work began on 26 February, with several very intense weeks for GBRf’s engineering trains, followed by extended support that will be delivered by the company until the end of May 2021.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“This is another example of GB Railfreight stepping up to support a huge bespoke project. It required a tailored solution, which we will be able to deliver thanks to the effective collaboration that is consistently shown across our team.

“We are proud to have demonstrated to Network Rail, and the wider rail industry, that GBRf can rise to a challenge and deliver a solution to support major infrastructure projects. This puts us in a strong position to accept similar campaigns in the future.”

Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said:

“We’re extremely grateful to all of our contractors, who are together making the King’s Cross improvements possible. GBRf are playing a key role this work which, when complete in June, will see a new simplified track layout, two additional new tracks and the replacement of overhead line equipment and new signalling.

“For the next few months we will be fully focused on the successful delivery of the work and bring improved reliability and punctuality while also ensuring we have the capacity to transport more passengers in the future.”

GB Railfreight comment following Chancellor’s Budget

Following the Chancellor’s Budget statement, John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight said:

“We welcome the Chancellor’s Budget statement, which will be key to put the economy back on track. Investment  in the future of the rail sector through a £30 million investment in a Global Centre for Rail Excellence is also welcome.

“Given the huge advantages that shifting freight from road to rail offers in terms of reduced emissions,  this Budget is a missed opportunity to do more to support this shift through an increase in the current Mode Shift Revenue Support scheme.

“We eagerly await the publication of the Government’s Integrated Rail plan which we hope will be published shortly”.