GB Railfreight Announces Contract Renewal with Tarmac

GB Railfreight Announces Contract Renewal with Tarmac



GB Railfreight (GBRf) is delighted to announce Tarmac has renewed its contract for five years from January 2020 to 31 December 2025, for the transportation of aggregate materials. The contract will include the supply of hopper and box wagons from GBRf.


This is an extension to the current contract which covers the northern package of Tarmac’s rail operations, encompassing services mainly from Arcow and Swinden railheads in North Yorkshire to a variety of destinations including Leeds, Hull and two sites in Manchester.


The new contract builds on the successful relationship that has been established since GBRf started services in the northern package over four years ago in January 2016.


Managing director of GBRf John Smith said:


“We are absolutely delighted to have signed a contract extension with Tarmac. Our relationship goes back many years and we have built on the strong partnership forged in 2016.


“During the ongoing pandemic, we are doing our bit to keep the economy moving and our partnership with Tarmac is testament to that. We look forward to working with Tarmac in the months and years to come to spur the recovery of the construction sector.”


Chris Swan, head of rail at Tarmac, said:

“Effective use of the rail freight network is key in supporting the UK’s transition to a net-zero society and supporting a green recovery as we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. Collaborative working has a vital role to play in this and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with GB Railfreight as the industry focuses on continued modal shift, as well as driving forward efficiencies and innovation.”

GB Railfreight Make History with Class 66 to Oban Station

GB Railfreight Make History with Class 66 to Oban Station

GB Railfreight made history on Thursday 12 September, when for the first time ever a Class 66 locomotive ran along the Oban branch in Scotland right to its terminus.

The achievement was two years in the making. GBRf worked with Network Rail to approve the use of Class 66s on the line, as previously they had not been permitted with only lighter locomotives, such as Class 37s, allowed.

Locomotive 66 746 successfully headed the Royal Scotsman into Oban Station, and a limited number of charter Class 66 locomotives a year will be able to run on the single track Crianlarich to Oban line in the West Highlands for rail excursions.

The use of Class 66s on the line was specifically designed to facilitate the Royal Scotsman excursions along one of the most scenic railway lines in the world, taking in the remote mountainous west coast of Scotland, on board an overnight luxury train.

The journey itself sweeps along the edge of Loch Awe, past Ben Cruachan (the highest point in Argyll and Bute) where travellers can take in the ruins of Kilchurn Castle, before heading to Loch Etive and then to Oban. From Oban, travellers can then take ferries on to Mull, Iona and the Outer Hebrides.

John Smith, Managing Director GB Railfreight, said:

“This is an historic achievement and a lot of hard work has gone into making Class 66s on the Oban branch a reality. The first journey was a resounding success and just goes to show the expertise of the GBRf team in meeting and exceeding challenges to deliver innovative services for our clients across the whole of the UK. The whole team is very excited to see further Class 66s arrive at Oban station.”

Andy Saunders, Freight Delivery Director, said:

“Network Rail were delighted to support this important charter service through the Oban line and being able to permit a limited number of Class 66 movements a year for the operation of the Royal Scotsman”.


GB Railfreight Celebrates Locomotion’s 15th Anniversary with Class 66 Naming

GB Railfreight Celebrates Locomotion’s 15th Anniversary with Class 66 Naming

GB Railfreight are pleased to announce the naming of one of our Class 66 locomotives as part of the celebrations around the 15th anniversary of the opening of Locomotion, Shildon, on Saturday 21 September.

In honour of the occasion, a Class 66 ‘Locomotion 15’ has been named. GBRf hope to see the museum carry on its inspiring work for another 15 years, educating all generations about the important role of the railways and its technological developments.

GBRf actively work with both the National Railway Museum and others to promote railways of yesterday, today and the future, and to preserve our wonderful heritage especially in such a unique and exciting venue as Locomotion.

By naming the Class 66 loco ‘Locomotion 15’ GBRf are delighted to be part of the museum’s history. Locomotion has played an important role in showcasing the national collection of railway vehicles in an historic railway town, and GBRf have been a long-time supporter of the museum. Previously, GBRf provided locomotives for display, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the best in modern traction in the rail freight sector.

Bob Tiller, GBRf Engineering Director, said;

“We are thrilled to unveil ‘Locomotion 15’ to celebrate the success of the museum on its 15th anniversary. The work Locomotion do to showcase the history of the railways is an inspiration and I hope visitors are encouraged to find out more about the important role rail freight plays across the country.”

Sarah Price, Head of Locomotion, said:

“The newly named ‘Locomotion 15’ is a wonderful way to mark our anniversary. GBRf have provided us with much support over the years and we hope that our visitors keep an eye out for the locomotive as it travels across the UK.”

GB Railfreight Announce New Ownership

GB Railfreight Announce New Ownership

GB Railfreight announced on Monday 23 September that EQT’s infrastructure portfolio company, Hector Rail Group, has sold the business to Infracapital – the unlisted infrastructure equity arm of M&GPrudential.

Over the past three years under EQT’s tenure, GB Railfreight has grown considerably, expanding across the length and breadth of the UK and into new markets. The most exciting for the company being the intermodal market, with a range of new routes. This includes a new Southampton to Manchester intermodal service which launched earlier this month, serving one of the UK’s leading deep-sea container ports.

Together EQT and GB Railfreight have seen the business become the third largest rail freight operator in the UK, with over 900 employees and a turnover in excess of £200 million a year. GB Railfreight now operates over 1,000 trainloads a week, moving approximately 23% of UK’s rail cargo.

It was been an incredibly successfully time for GB Railfreight and under Infracapital the business will continue grow to deliver a reliable and high-quality service for customers.

John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said:

“We have grown at an incredible rate under EQT. It has been a real pleasure working with EQT over the past three years to become a leading rail freight provider. As a business we are now entering an exciting time with Infracapital – I look forward to working closely with our new owners to maintain and surpass our growth ambitions.”

Martin Lennon, Head of Infracapital, said:

“GB Railfreight has shown strong growth in the UK rail freight sector and expanded into new markets, identifying the business as a leader in rail freight. It not only leads in innovation but its environmental credentials set it apart from competitors. We are delighted to be part of the business’s future growth and success.”

GBRf Announce New Southampton to Manchester Intermodal Service

GBRf Announce New Southampton to Manchester Intermodal Service

GB Railfreight are delighted to announce the start (Monday 2 September) of another new intermodal service, this time from Solent Stevedores, Southampton, to Maritimes Terminal in Trafford, Manchester. This will be the third daily service GBRf offer from one of the UK’s leading deep-sea container ports.

This new service marks GBRf’s continued expansion into the intermodal market and the vital role rail freight plays in delivering goods around the country.

GBRf continues to prioritise converting volume from road to rail in the intermodal market and this new service demonstrates the success of our service delivery and expertise being provided to customers across the network.

The new service will run five days a week, and represents GBRf’s 17th intermodal service to date, following unprecedented growth in this market over the last two years. Intermodal traffic now accounts for approximately 36% of all rail freight industry wide.

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.

When combined with rail’s advantageous performance in terms of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter emissions, rail freight demonstrates a clear contribution to the challenge of meeting the UK’s carbon-cutting targets.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“I am thrilled to see the beginning of this new service. 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. We are very proud of the hard work that has been put in to be the industry’s trusted intermodal carrier.”

Stuart Cullen, CEO of Solent Stevedores, said:

“We are delighted that GB Railfreight has started a new service from Solent Stevedores to Manchester. We have a strong working relationship and are thrilled that our partnership is flourishing through their new intermodal services from our terminal”.

GBRf’s £2 Million Refurbished Class 92 to Enter Caledonian Sleeper Service

GB Railfreight are pleased to announce that Locomotive 92006 has re-entered service following a £2 million refurbishment at Wabtec’s Brush Traction facility in Loughborough. The Class 92 will be used on the Caledonian Sleeper route once it has completed testing.

Originally completed in 1996, the Class 92 last ran in 2006 before being placed into storage in France. The full overhaul and re-instatement of this locomotive is the last in a series of successful programmes of work developed jointly with Brush Traction, part of the Wabtec Group.

With the introduction of Mark 5 Coaches on the Caledonian Sleeper, GBRf have fully rebuilt 92006 to haul the Coaches on both the Lowlander Caledonian Sleeper route between Euston and Edinburgh and Glasgow, and in due course the Highlander Caledonian Sleeper routes to Fort William, Aberdeen and Inverness.

The Class 92 has been fitted with special Dellner couplings, providing additional safety measures, improved communication equipment, and power upgrades to operate the more intensive services offered on this route.

The locomotive has been painted in Caledonian Sleeper Livery and will now undergo test runs before entering traffic.

John Smith, Managing Director of GBRf, said:

“Our investment in the refurbishment of Class 92s for the new Caledonian Sleeper service means that customers will experience a reliable, state of the art, modern locomotive on their journey from London to Scotland.

We are delighted with the work Wabtec has carried out on the 92006 and we look forward to continuing our partnership to meet the growing demands in the rail freight sector.”

Paul Bain, Managing Director of Brush Traction, said:

“Brush are proud to have been involved with this truly collaborative project where we fully utilise our highly experienced skills. We look forward to continuing our strong working relationship with GBRf as a value-added solution provider”.

GB Railfreight and Newell & Wright unveil new ‘Made in Sheffield’ Locomotive

(Photo credit: Richard Gennis)

GB Railfreight and Newell & Wright are pleased to announce the naming of the new Class 66 locomotive at a dedicated naming ceremony held today (9 July) at DP World’s, London Gateway site, in Thurrock.

The new locomotive, called ‘Made in Sheffield’, was unveiled by John Smith, Managing Director of GBRf, and Frank Newell, Managing Director of Newell & Wright. The naming ceremony was also attended by local dignitary Cllr Piccolo, the Mayor of Thurrock.

GBRf ran its first service to the Newell & Wright terminal in Rotherham from the Port of Felixstowe in 2017, with Newell & Wright Transport contracting 50% of the freight capacity. Last year, GBRf added a five days per week service carrying containers for Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Newell & Wright between London Gateway and the Rotherham terminal. The Newell & Wright terminal is now becoming a key strategic hub for end users.

John Smith, Managing Director of GBRf, said:

“We are delighted to unveil our ‘Made in Sheffield’ locomotive, which celebrates the success of our shared services into the Newell & Wright Rotherham terminal. The container market is an important source of growth for the industry and we are proud to be delivering a reliable service that also helps the UK cut carbon emissions and improve air quality.

“‘Made in Sheffield’ signifies the close working relationship we have with Newell & Wright and is an important part of the operations we run across the UK.”

Frank Newell, Managing Director of Newell & Wright, said:

“It is fantastic to have a locomotive named after our Sheffield roots. The service GBRf provides into our terminal in Rotherham offers Yorkshire a reliable, seamless rail service which is an integral part of the supply chain.”

EVENING STANDARD: More rail freight can help London be greener

By John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight

When we think of London’s rail network, images of commuters packed tightly onto trains heading into the capital for the daily grind comes to mind. The well-worn route for millions of people is a reminder of the dependence London has on its rail network.

Transporting the capital’s workers is certainly important but is only half the picture. Rail supports London’s growth through the movement of freight too. While the role of rail in moving goods is barely noticed by most people, it is important to the city’s economy and in delivering on the demands of Londoners for action on air pollution and climate change.

London is undergoing a green transport revolution. Cycling is being prioritised and there is a shift to electric cars and vans. Business is facing pressure to move to more sustainable ways of delivering goods.

The London-based business I run, GB Railfreight, is the UK’s fastest-growing rail-freight business. I believe rail freight can play a much bigger role in helping London become a greener city.

Freight trains can carry the equivalent of up to 70 lorries, while producing a quarter of the carbon emissions. 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.

Londoners are the most active users of online shopping in the UK, but there is increasing concern about the environmental impact of parcel deliveries. We’re asking ourselves how rail could play a role in making these deliveries more sustainable. We are exploring converting old Intercity 125 high-speed trains into fast freight services that can move internet shopping orders into London overnight, ready for delivery next morning. This would increase the speed of deliveries and lessen their environmental impact.

For a greener London we need to see the expansion of rail freight into our city. For this, we require action from both policymakers and business.

Access to freight terminals in London needs to be preserved. This requires appropriate planning policy from the Mayor and London’s boroughs to protect sites from being developed for other uses and, importantly, allowing them to operate at night, so freight services can make the best use of less congested lines. Central government must also deliver investment to remove bottlenecks on routes into London.

Business can play a role by looking at the sustainability of their deliveries into the capital. Like all major cities, London is constantly feeling the pains of growth. Over the decades rail has played a huge role in allowing the city to expand while remaining an attractive place to live. I believe rail freight has an important role to play in helping London’s ever-changing economy grow while reducing air pollution and carbon emissions.

This article originally appeared in the Evening Standard on Friday 5 July.

Site reopening could boost rail’s role in Heathrow Expansion

GB Railfreight has assisted in the reopening of a rail site at Link Park Heathrow, just to the north of Heathrow Airport by taking part in a test run which has shown the recreated sidings as suitable for use for the transportation of aggregates to the site.

The test run was successful and site occupier Ashville Aggregates is developing plans to use the site to transport aggregates from the Midlands to their Park Link site.

The site was last used as a railhead in 2013 but since then use has been discontinued and the rail lines had been covered over. Rail consultant, Intermodality, led on the work to uncover and reinstate the lines, and ensure that the sidings were again suitable to for freight train unloading.

The site is just three miles to the north of Heathrow airport and close to the planned site of the third runway.

GB Railfreight’s test train from the mainline into the sidings to test its operability was successful and the site is now operational.

John Smith Managing Director of GB Railfreight said:

“GB Railfreight is pleased to have been able to help in the reopening of this site. The reopening is a clear sign of increasing demand for rail freight services as business look for reliable and more sustainable ways to move freight.

“With each train carrying the equivalent of 60 lorry loads and while emitting at quarter of the emissions of equivalent road transport, rail freight has an increasingly important role to play. With major new infrastructure projects planned to happen close by, including the Heathrow third runway, the site offers a potentially useful rail head to transport material to the area and potentially spoil away.”

“We hope that our train will be the first of many into the redeveloped site”

GB Railfreight and CEMEX Launch New Branded Locomotive at Official Naming Ceremony

On Wednesday, GB Railfreight (GBRf) and Global building materials supplier CEMEX presented the new CEMEX-liveried locomotive at a dedicated naming ceremony held at Dove Holes Quarry, Buxton.

The new locomotive is called The Cemex Express. The name was unveiled at the event by record producer and rail enthusiast Pete Waterman. Resplendent in the white, blue and red colours of the CEMEX brand, the vehicle recognises the partnership between GBRf and CEMEX, which has now been in place for one year.

The Cemex Express, a Class 66 Locomotive, will travel typically between Dove Holes quarry, carrying premium aggregate for readymix and asphalt plants, and external customers throughout the UK. It will pull 22 to 26 hopper wagons that discharge their loads from underneath directly onto the plant’s conveyors. A single trainload can deliver up to 2,000 tons of material in one trip and will make over 200 trips for CEMEX each year; the equivalent of over 20,000 truckloads.

John Smith, Managing Director of GBRf, said:

We are delighted to unveil this fantastic Class 66 locomotive, painted in the CEMEX livery and representing our two organisations’ ongoing partnership. This contract is demonstrative of the role rail freight has to play in helping the UK to cut carbon emissions and to improve air quality.

On average, one gallon of fuel will move one tonne of goods 246 miles on the rail network, while the same amount will only get you 88 miles by road. Rail freight’s CO2 emissions are 76 per cent lower than road’s, per tonne carried. An average freight train removes 60 HGV journeys from the roads and the largest up to 160. When this is combined with rail’s advantageous performance in terms of nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions, rail freight demonstrates a clear contribution to the challenge of meeting the UK’s carbon-cutting targets.”

David Hart, CEMEX’s Supply Chain Director for UK & France, commented:

The transport of our product by rail is of ever-increasing importance to CEMEX as we look to make our operations as sustainable as possible. Rail is a far more environmentally friendly method of transport than trucks on the road, as a train burns significantly less fuel per ton-mile than road vehicles, saving around 50% in CO2 emissions.

CEMEX UK currently transports 2.6 million tonnes of aggregate by rail each year which equates to approximately 100,000 trucks off the road; enough to build 40,000 houses; and we want to continue to build on this. We are very proud of our partnership with GBRf and hope that together we will be able to transport more and more by rail safely whilst reducing the number of truck movements.”

Lex Russell, Managing Director for UK Materials North at CEMEX, added:

“Dove Holes is one of CEMEX’s most important quarries and generates several million tonnes of limestone aggregates every year, as well as asphalt, readymix, concrete products and dry silo mortar.  By rail we then supply many locations across the UK including key cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham and London. It was therefore the perfect location to unveil the new Cemex Express locomotive and take the opportunity to thank those in our team and at GBRf for their hard work and dedication to our rail partnership.”