GBRf celebrate wins at Golden Whistles Awards 2021

GBRf celebrate wins at Golden Whistles Awards 2021

Ian Langton, GBRf Production Director, receiving the award from Glen Merryman, Chair of the IRO South East Council

GB Railfreight are celebrating two wins at this year’s virtual Golden Whistles Awards, following the announcement that GBRf has won the Silver Whistle award in the Freight Performance and the Delay Minutes Award categories.

The Golden Whistles Awards are organised by Modern Railways and the Institution of Railway Operators and have taken place throughout the week.

The Silver Whistle is awarded to the “most improved” freight operator in the Freight Performance category and is based on ‘A2F’ (Arrival to Fifteen) moving annual average scores of freight operating companies. The Minimising Delay Minutes award meanwhile takes into account all routes and assesses them for delay minutes caused to all operators, moving the annual average to end of Period 9. GBRf was also awarded the Silver Whistle in this category.

GBRf Production Director Ian Langton said:

“Huge congratulations to all the GBRf team for another awards win. These two awards are a reflection of the work the team does across the business, showing us to have been the most improved in both the Freight Performance and the Delay Minutes Award categories. 

“What these awards also show is the deep resilience of our business model, and our constant focus on improving and innovating. As a company we always strive to do better and these two ‘most improved’ awards are a testament to the hard work done by the amazing GBRf staff.”

GBRf & MSC UK drive sustainability with new 5-year rail deal

GBRf & MSC UK drive sustainability with new 5-year rail deal

GB Railfreight (GBRf) and Mediterranean Shipping Company (UK) Ltd. (MSC) are delighted to announce a new five-year deal, further strengthening their long-established relationship and joint commitment to delivering sustainable solutions for customers.

GBRf has been a provider of rail services to MSC since 2002. Their knowledge and expertise in supplying locomotives and wagons combined with MSC’s extensive line haulage services enables the two companies to deliver market leading door-to-door services to their customers.

The new agreement will be volume-based and is expected to increase wagon utilisation that in turn will help further reduce carbon emissions.

MSC commented:

MSC is once again delighted to confirm a new five year deal with GBRf who have been supporting MSC with our Intermodal rail services since 2002. Our priority was to continue to offer unparalleled capability and flexibility to our line haulage customers in a fast paced and ever evolving UK intermodal market. Increased wagon utilisation was a key component from the start and engagement with ports and inland terminals to support this initiative took place early on.

We are delighted that our new shared contract will allow both MSC and GBRf to continue our work in taking steps to reduce CO2 emissions by moving containers via rail, closer to final destination.”

 The services will operate from Felixstowe and London Gateway to both the Midlands and Yorkshire , with a minimum commitment of 5 days a week. Over the course of the next five years, the deal will remain agile and be able to provide flexibility to changing market dynamics while supporting MSC’s intermodal volume growth.

John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said:

“We are thrilled to have signed this contract with MSC. They are a longstanding partner and one of the leading shipping and logistics companies in the world, and we are delighted to be able to continue working with them for the next five years.

“Given MSC’s projected future growth we have struck a flexible agreement which will allow both parties to make better use of the services we share. As a business we always put the clients first and we are delighted to be able to cater to MSC’s needs with this contract renewal.

“With the economic picture looking uncertain, I am pleased we will continue working with MSC – a move which shows that the rail freight market is in good shape and will be needed more than ever as we begin the road back to recovery.”

 With proven records of ability to adapt to fast-paced, changing economic and market climates, both GBRf and MSC will be further supporting their customers’ supply chains with increased stability, flexibility and sustainability.

GB Railfreight comment on the publication of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail White Paper

Commenting on the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail White Paper, published today, John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said:

“We welcome the publication of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail and appreciate the warm words used to describe rail freight – correctly identified as having played a crucial role in keeping food and medical supplies moving during the pandemic as well as being key to building back better.

“As the Williams Review found, the rail sector lacks clear strategic direction. While we would have preferred a freight specific guiding mind, we welcome the government’s intent that the new Great British Railway body will have a statutory duty to promote rail freight. Within this context it is vital that our access to the network is given long term security as soon as possible. 

“However we remain of the belief that our sector needs a Freight Evangelist to champion it within GBR and across Whitehall. The benefits of rail freight are there for all to see, and we hope they will be recognised by GBR once it has been set up. Hopefully such an individual will be placed in post within the GBR organisation.

“We look forward to playing our part in shaping in the future of the railways including working with GBR and the Department for Transport on the Whole Industry 30-year Strategic Plan that will be set out in the coming months as announced in the White Paper.”

GBRf extend contract with Belmond for Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train, Scotland’s haulage

GBRf extend contract with Belmond for Royal Scotsman, A Belmond Train, Scotland’s haulage

GB Railfreight (GBRf) is delighted to announce that it has reached an agreement with Belmond to extend its existing contract to haul Belmond’s prestigious Royal Scotsman luxury sleeper train.

The partnership will last for an additional five years and will see GBRf continue to operate the train’s luxury journeys through spectacular Scottish scenery. The train holds up to forty guests and offers two, three and four night routes through the heart of the Highlands.

Today’s announcement is continued proof of GBRf’s strength and resilience as one of the country’s leading transport companies. Despite the disruption due to COVID-19, GB Railfreight has continued to provide first class services to all its commercial partners and is seeing business flourish despite the uncertain economic outlook.

Gary Franklin, Vice President, Trains & Cruises, Belmond, said:

“We are pleased to continue our relationship with GBRf who have been excellent partners since 2015. We look forward to commencing the Royal Scotsman’s operations again in 2021 – offering truly exceptional journeys through the heart of Scotland.”

John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said:

 “We are absolutely delighted to be signing this contract extension with Belmond. As one of the UK’s preeminent luxury travel brands, we are honoured to continue working with them. Our existing relationship goes back to 2015 and to see it continue is a sign of how well we have cooperated over the years. 

“This is also a good sign given the economic uncertainty businesses face in light of the third national lockdown in England. Rail freight has been one of the drivers of economic activity throughout this period and will be needed now more than ever to ensure we recovery quickly. By strengthening partnerships such as the one with Belmond we are doing our bit to put our economy back on track.”

GBRf calls for the appointment of a ‘Freight Evangelist’ as Rail White Paper is published

GBRf calls for the appointment of a ‘Freight Evangelist’ as Rail White Paper is published

GB Railfreight, one of the UK’s leading transport companies and the fastest growing rail freight operator, has called for the appointment of a new dedicated rail freight ‘guiding mind’ to steer the sector through the next phase in order to assure future growth, particularly following the COVID-19 crisis.

The new position, which will oversee all rail freight operations, is expected to be unveiled with the publication of the long-awaited Rail White Paper this week, in what looks set to be the biggest shake-up of the UK’s railways since privatisation in the 1990s.

GB Railfreight is calling for the new ‘Freight Evangelist’ to sign up to its Freight Manifesto, a five-point plan outlining of proposed measures which will ensure the sector can continue to grow and support the UK economy, while also putting the industry as a whole on a path towards sustainability.

The five-point plan is calling for the new Evangelist to:

  1. Champion the economic value of freight, so that it is put on an equal footing with passenger services;
  2. Put decarbonisation at the heart of their plan for the sector, in order to champion the ongoing modal shift from road to rail;
  3. Enforce an access regime that is reliable and fair to allow operators to deliver for their customers;
  4. Deliver investment that is freight specific, notably on electrification and improvements to critical infrastructure that unlocks freight capacity;
  5. Take an integrated national perspective, but also devolve powers over operations to the regions to ensure the smooth running of services across the country.

John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said:

“We are at a critical point in the rail sector’s future. The decisions in the White Paper this week will have long-lasting consequences on all aspects, including rail freight. For this reason, GBRf is calling for the appointment of a dedicated ‘Freight Evangelist’ that can guide the sector into the next phase of our development.

“What rail freight needs now is parity of esteem with passenger services, and we need a voice round the table that can make the case for us. We have kept going during the pandemic, showing that we are an integral part of the UK economy. Rail freight also has an important role to play in reaching net zero emissions – it is right our voices are heard, both within Network Rail and across Whitehall.

“Today’s Freight Manifesto is a list of demands of the new guiding mind which will ensure rail freight can play its full part in shaping the future of the UK’s railways and put the economy on track to reach net zero by 2050.”

GBRf sign new contract with A.P. Moller – Maersk

GBRf sign new contract with A.P. Moller – Maersk

Photo taken by Joada Allen

GB Railfreight (GBRf) is today announcing a new two-year deal with the global provider of end-to-end logistics services, the Danish company A.P. Moller -Maersk. The first rail collaboration between the two companies.

The service will operate from Felixstowe to Newell & Wright in Tinsley and will consist of daily trains, five times a week. The new built facility at Tinsley will bring new exciting opportunities to the market.

This new agreement sees GBRf operating from a new terminal, in Tinsley, but is a continuation of a longstanding relationship with Newell & Wright, whom GBRf have long worked with.

Today’s announcement also allows for the already strong relationship between GBRf and Maersk to flourish over the coming years. Maersk, a global integrator of container logistics company, active in ocean and inland freight transportation and associated services, such as supply chain management and port operation, has been the largest container shipping line and vessel operator in the world since 1996 and is a leading player in the logistics space. This new service will incorporate five new eco-fret 2 wagons which we have recently procured from VTG.

John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said:

“I am delighted we have agreed this contract with Maersk, one of the world’s most renowned logistics and shipping companies. We are a growing organisation, always looking for the next opportunity and working with Maersk was an excellent opportunity. We hope this is the beginning of a great relationship.”

“We are also thrilled to be able to continue to build on our relationship with Newell & Wright, and to be operating from another of their terminals. We look forward to strengthening our ties over the course of the next two years.”

Jeremy Haycock at Maersk said:

“Maersk´s ultimate aim is offering our customers reliable options that streamline their supply chains. As a provider of logistic services, rail is key for us to increase supply chain flexibility for our customers. We will continue to strength our reliability in the UK and for that matter, the relationship with GBRf and Newell & Wright has proven to be of paramount importance.”

GBRf works with Biffa to turn derelict land into emission reducing transport hub

GBRf works with Biffa to turn derelict land into emission reducing transport hub

Previously unused land in East London has been transformed into a transport hub, linking key waste sites with leading waste manager Biffa’s facilities by rail. The Renwick Road site opens today in partnership with GB Railfreight (GBRf) and will be able to transport 250,000 tonnes of waste from London by rail.

Transporting waste by rail is a key strategic aim for Biffa which is working towards transporting 50% of all its waste by rail by 2025. Since it launched its strategic partnership with GBRf in 2018, over a million tonnes of waste have been transported by rail, saving more than one million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions from reaching the atmosphere.

Mick Davis, Chief Operating Officer for Resources and Energy Division at Biffa said:

“The opening of our new rail hub marks the next step in our strategic partnership with GBRf to increase our capacity for transportation by rail. It will help us reduce dependence on vehicles on the road and reduce the emissions we produce. The site was totally derelict when we took it on and amongst the rubbish and debris we cleared, we actually found some interesting items, including one and a half tonnes of World War Two bullets.”

John Smith, Managing Director at GBRf commented:

“We are delighted to be working with Biffa on this project and our collaboration will see us move thousands of tonnes of waste in a sustainable way. This is the way forward if we are to reach the net zero carbon emission target by 2050 and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Biffa in the months and years to come to ensure more waste can be removed by rail.”

Biffa has spent £4.2 million developing the site, removing 14,000 tonnes of previously fly-tipped waste and debris. Renwick Road has always been a railway yard, with its earliest record dating back to 1864. It fell out of use in 1991 and has remained unused until now. Operating five trains a week, Renwick Road will transport waste from North and East London to sites at Roxby, Scunthorpe, Leeds and Manchester.

Benefits of transporting waste by rail:

  1. It helps manage waste more sustainably, taking vehicles off the road
  2. Transporting waste by rail reduces the number of emissions produced by vehicles – through its rail transportation Biffa has reduced its emissions by 75%
  3. Local communities can benefit as there is less traffic on the road


Biffa and GBRf have been working together since 2018 when they announced the partnership to transport more waste by rail. It came after the opening of a transfer station in Manchester in 2017 and one in Leeds in 2018.