GB Railfreight announces major new investment in Peterborough

GB Railfreight (GBRf), operator of Rail Freight Services across the UK and employer of over 1,000 staff, is pleased to announce the investment of £4.7m into new maintenance depot in Peterborough alongside the East Coast Mainline.

The depot – which is being built by Cairn Cross Engineering – will create around 60 jobs in the local area during construction and a further 20 permanent jobs when the project completes next Summer. This continues GBRf’s sustained investment in Peterborough and Eastern England following construction of its new £3 million Peterborough HQ last year. The depot is scheduled to open next summer

The depot’s construction formally began this morning at 9am with a  ground breaking event taking place at the GBRf House, Peterborough. Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald (Leader of Peterborough City Council) was in attendance, in addition to  John Smith (Chief Executive Officer, GB Railfreight) and Phil Williamson (Managing Director, Cairn Cross Engineering).

The state-of-art maintenance hub will play a vital role in GBRf’s ambitions to improve safety and reliability across its wagon fleet, using smart sensor technology to quickly analyse wagon conditions and identify faults much earlier quickly and accurately. Through this work, the new Peterborough maintenance hub will support GB Railfreight’s ambitious growth plans as it works up to running 75 intermodal services a day by 2025.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said:

“We are delighted to be strengthening our presence in Peterborough with the construction of our new maintenance hub. Peterborough was a natural choice of location following the opening of our headquarters – GBRf House – here last year. The city is also one of the most important points on the East Coast Mainline and has a long and illustrious connection to the country’s railways.

“We hope that the hub will provide the local community with new opportunities through high quality jobs and training schemes. This in turn will help bring through a new generation of talent in the rail freight industry, which will be vital to delivering the sector’s continued success.”

Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, Leader of Peterborough City Council, said:

“This is a welcome investment to Peterborough and one which will create many new jobs for our residents and improve the flow of goods on the city’s rail-line. It also proves – once again – that Peterborough is the ideal place for investment.”

David Golding, Asset Director, GB Railfreight, said:

“The Peterborough maintenance hub is a major investment into the sector and will form an integral part of our infrastructure long into the future. Our ability to service wagons quickly will also allow us to deliver an even more reliable service to our customers, and support GB Railfreight’s growth aspirations.”

Phil Williamson, Managing Director, Cairn Cross Engineering Ltd, said:

“Cairn Cross is delighted to have secured this project in partnership with GBRf at the Peterborough maintenance hub. The project will significantly improve the efficiency of rail freight maintenance in Eastern England.”

Caledonian Sleeper names engine in honour of Railway Heritage Trust

Caledonian Sleeper names engine in honour of Railway Heritage Trust

Caledonian Sleeper has today named one of the engines which powers its iconic cross border service in honour of the Railway Heritage Trust. Intended as a token of thanks for supporting the company’s major restoration project at Perth Station.

A listed building that dates back to 1848, Perth Station was designed on a grand scale in keeping with the Tudor Gothic style of the time. However, in 2018 the vast size of the station meant that many rooms were lying empty.

Caledonian Sleeper restored the interior décor of an unused waiting area to create a luxury guest lounge for its passengers as well as a staff training centre, breathing fresh life into the area and bringing it back into service. The Railway Heritage Trust provided a generous grant to help fund the refurbishment.

In recognition of this support, Caledonian Sleeper has teamed up with GB Railfreight, which operates the fleet of Class 92 engines that help power the company’s iconic overnight rail service, to name one of the engines in honour of the Trust. A plaque was unveiled on the engine at London Euston today to mark the occasion.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said:

“We share the Railway Heritage Trust’s ambition to protect the UK’s historic railway network while modernising the vital infrastructure we all rely on.

“Given the cultural significance of Perth Station, we’re grateful for the support they’ve provided to Caledonian Sleeper and are proud to have one of our Class 92 locos carry the Trust’s nameplates.”

Kathryn Darbandi, Serco’s Managing Director for Caledonian Sleeper, said:

“We’re honoured to be naming one of the Class 92’s after the Railway Heritage Trust and proud to have worked with the Trust on our restoration project at Perth Station.

“It’s incredibly important that we protect the heritage features of the UK’s iconic railway network, while also ensuring the network is fit for use in the 21st Century, so it can be enjoyed for many years to come.”

Andy Savage, Deputy Chairman of the Railway Heritage Trust, added:

‘We are deeply grateful to Caledonian Sleeper and to GB Railfreight for allowing one of their Class 92 engines to carry the Railway Heritage Trust name.

“The Railway Heritage Trust operates across the whole of the Network Rail system, and it is appropriate that a locomotive that operates on the longest-distance services on the network carries our name to such a wide range of locations.”

GB Railfreight launch new service for Brett Aggregates

GB Railfreight (GBRf) and Brett Aggregates, independent building materials supplier, successfully launched a new aggregates service from Newhaven, East Sussex, to Thorney Mill, West Drayton, on Wednesday 19 January.

This was the first service operated by GBRf from Brett Aggregates’ Newhaven collection terminal, which is capable of receiving 10,000t cargo vessels. The train consisted of 17 wagons, transporting approximately 1,350 tonnes of aggregate destined for construction projects in South East, England.

The new service marks GBRf’s continued expansion in the Bulk market and brings opportunity to support Brett Aggregates by operating future services from its collection terminals.

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

“This new service demonstrates how transporting material by rail, which otherwise would have been taken by road, significantly reduces the environmental impact of important construction projects across the South East.”

Francis Bourgeois, TikTok star, announced as GB Railfreight brand ambassador

GB Railfreight (GBRf) is excited to announce TikTok trainspotting star Francis Bourgeois as its new brand ambassador. Throughout 2022, Francis will be sharing his passion and insights for the railway, by showcasing the vital role of rail freight and going behind the scenes at GBRf.

Francis first came to GBRf’s attention following his famous video featuring the Class 73/9 locomotive named ‘Dick Mabbutt’, which has now amassed 12 million views on TikTok. Since becoming a platform favourite for his enthusiastic trainspotting videos across the rail network, Francis has amassed over 2 million followers on TikTok and over 1 million followers on Instagram. This popularity has earned him appearances on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ and collaborations with big names such as Thierry Henry and ASOS.

Seema Kotecha, Head of Communications & Marketing, GB Railfreight, said:

 “Francis is the perfect brand ambassador for raising the profile of rail freight and the important work our industry does to support the UK Economy and efforts to reach net zero. We have all loved his content and infectious energy that has put a spotlight on the railway.”

Francis Bourgeois, GB Railfreight brand ambassador, said:

“I am so excited to be joining GB Railfreight, I have had a lifelong passion for the railway, and I can’t wait to apply this enthusiasm to my ambassadorship at the company. I am really looking forward to elevating the world of trains, rail freight, and spreading happiness and joy in general — with GB Railfreight, we will be able to achieve this together.”

GB Railfreight charity railtour raises over £147,000 for Prostate Cancer UK

GB Railfreight (GBRf) has raised more than £147,000 for its charity partner, Prostate Cancer UK, following the success of its charity railtour, ‘GBRf 2021’.

Having departed London Victoria on Thursday 2 September 2021, the four-day charity charter travelled across different parts of the UK rail network, finishing at London Paddington on Sunday 5 September 2021.

Organised by GBRf’s charity railtour team, Paul Taylor, Ian Grey and Dale Williams, ‘GBRf 2021’ was the company’s third 4-day railtour, having raised over a quarter of a million pounds from its previous two marathon charity charters.

The success of this railtour was underpinned by the support of the wider rail industry and 50 volunteers from within GBRf who gave up their own time to work as train drivers and stewards.

In total, ‘GBRf 2021’ raised £147,215, which will go towards supporting Prostate Cancer UK’s mission to stop the disease limiting lives.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with one in eight men affected by the disease. This year, GBRf unveiled a specially painted locomotive featuring the charity’s iconic ‘Man of Men’ logo, sparking conversations aplenty about the disease. Funds raised will go into lifesaving research to make prostate cancer a disease men and their families no longer fear.

John Smith, CEO GB Railfreight, said:

“Yet again, our team have delivered another highly successful railtour that has raised an amazing amount for our chosen charity partner, Prostate Cancer UK. More now than ever, funds are needed to support vital research into better tests and treatments for people affected by prostate cancer and we’re proud to contribute to this great cause.

“My thanks go to our charity railtour team and the GBRf volunteers who gave up their own time to make this fundraising feat possible and provide much needed assistance behind the scenes.”

Paul Taylor, Contract Manager GB Railfreight, said:

I’m amazed at what we’ve achieved as a team to raise over £147,000 for Prostate Cancer UK, a charity very close to my heart following my diagnosis with the disease a few years ago. The crucial funds raised by this railtour will help in the fight against prostate cancer, which is credit to the huge contribution made by our team of volunteers and support shown by the railway family.”

Nicola Tallett, Director of Fundraising & Supporter Engagement Prostate Cancer UK, said:

“We’re delighted and hugely grateful to be on this lifesaving journey with GB Railfreight, and are thrilled to learn that more than £147,000 has been raised from the brilliant railtour and other fundraising activity. That amazing sum will help fund lifesaving research into the most common cancer in men as we go full steam ahead to do vital research into better tests and treatments. It’s also allowed us to continue to have hugely important conversations about prostate cancer – a disease affecting one in eight men in the UK, and one in four black men.

“We’re so thankful for the tireless support of John Smith and Paul and Tracy Taylor, who were huge driving forces in this project after Paul’s diagnosis with prostate cancer. On behalf of Prostate Cancer UK and all the men and families affected by this disease we thank everyone for getting on board.”

Werrington Tunnel opens unlocking faster journeys on the East Coast Main Line

New rail freight tunnel brings significant improvements to passenger journeys as part of the East Coast upgrade.

  • ground-breaking new tunnel dives under East Coast Main Line unlocking faster, more frequent and reliable journeys
  • UK engineering first as 11,000-tonne curved concrete tunnel installed in one go
  • opening is a major leap forward for the £1.2 billion East Coast upgrade, which will provide more seats and enable quicker journeys between London, the north of England and Scotland

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has today (9 December 2021) officially opened the brand-new Werrington Tunnel which carries freight trains underneath the busy East Coast Main Line and ensures that passenger services will no longer be disrupted by freight trains crossing the tracks.

The tunnel will bring significant improvements to passenger journeys on the East Coast Main Line as it passes through Peterborough. By easing congestion on existing tracks, the project will unlock the potential to shave time off journeys, allow more passenger trains through, and will see improved reliability for journeys using the line daily.

This is another successful step in the £1.2 billion East Coast upgrade, which will provide more seats and enable quicker journeys between London, the north of England and Scotland.

The completed project will help pave the way for the massive infrastructure roll out across the north and Midlands recently announced in the Integrated rail plan (IRP). The IRP sets out £96 billion worth of investment into the railways that will deliver real and meaningful improvements to communities, supporting economic growth by transforming both east–west and north–south links. The IRP will bring benefits more quickly to more places, many of which would have gained little under previous plans.

Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“This country’s railways have long been home to marvels of engineering and the new Werrington Tunnel shows that we are continuing that proud tradition.

Opening this new section of railway marks the end of a project which saw Network Rail engineers deliver an incredible feat installing an 11,000-tonne concrete tunnel, freeing up tracks and unlocking new opportunities for rail freight.

Our investment in the railways, including the unprecedented £96 billion we are spending through the integrated rail plan, means there are even more opportunities to move goods by rails, taking HGVs off the road.”

The engineering needed to install the tunnel saw a UK-first, as the 11,000-tonne curved concrete tunnel, 1,000 tonnes heavier than the Eiffel Tower, was slid into place under the existing railway in January this year. The ‘curved box’ was built next to the East Coast Main Line in 9, interconnected sections. The structure is 155 metres long, 9.5 metres wide and 5.1 metres high, with 1 metre thick walls.

In July, the new track installed inside the tunnel was connected to the existing lines. Work continued to install the signalling system which was commissioned over a single weekend in September. Vital testing of the new tunnel then took place to enable trains to start using the infrastructure.

Rob McIntosh, Managing Director for Network Rail’s Eastern region, said:

“From building the huge concrete tunnel onsite next to the East Coast Main Line, to pushing it into place in a UK first for engineering, to installing new track and signalling equipment to connect it to the existing lines – it’s been amazing to see the progress our teams have made on this ground-breaking project.

Passengers travelling between London, Peterborough, the north of England and Scotland will benefit from faster, more reliable journeys as longer freight trains can now dive underneath the famous passenger route.

I’m proud of our team’s brilliant response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and how they reached major milestones on the project when it was at its peak. Using innovative methods, we’ve also been able to avoid major disruption for passengers, as services have continued running throughout the majority of the work. We want to thank passengers as well as people in the community for their continued patience.”

The reforms in the Williams-Shapps plan for rail will set up rail freight for the future, investing in projects which boost capacity, improve performance and cut carbon emissions, as the government levels up the country and builds back greener.

Rail freight offers real benefits to the economy and environment – adding £2.5 billion to the UK economy per annum, removing over 7 million lorry journeys from our roads each year and emitting a quarter of the carbon dioxide of lorries per tonne kilometre travelled.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight said:

“The Werrington tunnel is a win for both consumers and the rail freight industry. It will not only improve passenger journeys, but also crucially unlock much-needed extra capacity on the network for freight services. This is an important investment by the government and furthers our industry’s efforts to create a more efficient supply chain across the UK, whilst making crucial environmental and regional investment progress at the same time.”

David Horne, Managing Director at LNER said:

“This unique project has seen huge cross-industry collaboration, with Network Rail working together with train operators and project partners to deliver this essential part of the East Coast upgrade. The completion of this project will reduce delays and create capacity to enable more LNER services to be launched in our new timetable.”

Simon Smith, Managing Director for Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, principal contractor on the project said:

“We’re incredibly proud to have worked closely with Network Rail and our supply chain to deliver the UK’s first curved portal push on the East Coast Main Line upgrade at Werrington. The portal is a great example of the UK’s leading engineering and innovation expertise, harnessing these skills to enhance passengers’ experiences between London and the north of England.”

GBRf Announce New Intermodal Service from Port of Tyne

As the country continues to struggle with supply chain issues, GB Railfreight (GBRf) are excited to share that they have successfully operated a series of intermodal services from the Port of Tyne to strategic rail hubs in Yorkshire and the Midlands.

The campaign saw GBRf operate intermodal services from Port of Tyne to Yorkshire twice-a-week in addition to services to the Midlands once-a-week.

This series of intermodal services comes as the Port of Tyne welcomes intermodal traffic to help ease the strains caused by simultaneous increased consumer demand and supply chain challenges, ensuring the delivery of goods across the UK.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said:

 “As import volume levels grow, this campaign of services demonstrates how rail freight can offer a real solution to the current issues facing our busiest deep sea ports.

“We’re proud to work with the Port of Tyne to operate this intermodal service. By unlocking extra capacity, this new flow can play a key role to ensure the timely and sustainable delivery of goods around the country.”

 Richard Newton, Commercial Director – Logistics at the Port of Tyne said:

 “We’re delighted to work with GBRf to enhance our service and provide another route to market, in addition to our own haulage, port centric warehouse operations and transshipment to other UK ports.  This boost to our offering demonstrates our capability to provide flexible and bespoke, solutions to our customers.”

GB Railfreight Delivers New High-Speed Electric Fleet for Lumo

GB Railfreight (GBRf), in partnership with Hitachi Rail, is proud to have supported Lumo by delivering its brand-new fleet of Class 803 high-speed electric trains that entered service last month.

Since May, GBRf has provided Hitachi Rail with train planning, haulage, and crews for the testing of these new trains which aim to bring rapid, low-cost, electric travel to the East Coast Main Line, from London to Edinburgh. GBRf will shortly deliver the fifth and final train for the Lumo fleet to Hitachi Rail’s Edinburgh depot in Craigentinny.

Moving forward, the long-term partnership between GBRf and Hitachi Rail will focus on commissioning new trains for East Midlands Railway and the West Coast Partnership, in addition to transit and testing operations in support of existing fleets across the country.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said:

 Working closely with our long-standing client Hitachi Rail, we’ve ensured the new fleet of Class 803 welcomes passengers as promised. This is a giant step forward in showcasing the role electric rail travel can, and must play, if the UK is to meet its net zero targets.”

 Gary Townsend, Project Manager, Hitachi Rail, said:

 “When it came to selecting a partner to act as Test Train Operator for the ECOA/Lumo fleet Hitachi chose GBRf based on their previous performance and values.  Once again, they have delivered collaboratively with Hitachi against the backdrop of a global pandemic to deliver these 100% electric trains on time for the service launch.”

GB Railfreight names Class 92 electric locomotive at COP26

GB Railfreight has named a Class 92 electric locomotive ‘Billy Stirling’ during a ceremony at Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP) as part of COP26 in Glasgow.

Located next to the electrified West Coast Main Line, MIRP is Scotland’s largest international multi-modal rail freight park and welcomes up to 16 trains per day. At peak operation, the rail freight park has the capacity to save over 200,00 tonnes of carbon per year, supporting a transition to a zero-carbon economy.

The naming ceremony formed part of the ‘Let’s Talk about Rail Freight’ day at the Low Carbon Logistics event, developed to support the UK and Scottish Governments’ vision for a zero-carbon supply chain at COP26 and was unveiled by Billy Stirling’s daughter, Julie Corr.

Low Carbon Logistics is a three-day event committed to raising the profile and awareness of low carbon transition in the rail and road freight sectors, providing the opportunity to celebrate innovation and promote the importance of Pulling Together for Net Zero.

As the third generation of the 151-year-old family-owned operator, Peter D. Stirling Limited, Billy Stirling introduced rail involvement into the company. Following this success, the Peter D. Stirling operation moved to Mossend Railhead in 1981. Under Billy’s guidance, the operator continued to thrive, resulting in the MIPR of present day.

Class 92s are the most powerful electric locomotives in the UK, with the ability to work all over the electrified network as well as through the Channel Tunnel in France. They have been specially converted for operation of Caledonian Sleeper vehicles.

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

“Billy Stirling was a true pioneer of the modern rail freight market in Scotland and played a vital role in the UK’s economic prosperity. It’s great to see his legacy live on through the next generation of the Stirling family and the development of a major new low carbon, multi-modal rail freight facility in MIRP.”

David Stirling, Managing Director of Peter D. Stirling Limited, said:

 The whole Stirling family is very pleased that our father, Billy Stirling’s hard work in building up the business has been recognised in such a magnificent way . His name is now attached to one of the strongest and ‘greenest’ electric freight locomotives around – something he would have been very proud of.”

GB Railfreight name new locomotive to celebrate major Bescot LDC upgrade

GB Railfreight name new locomotive to celebrate major Bescot LDC upgrade

08-10-2021 – GB Railfreight (GBRf) and Network Rail have named a Class 66 locomotive to celebrate the completion of major upgrade works to Bescot Local Distribution Centre (LDC).

The Class 66 locomotive No. 66795 has been named ‘Bescot LDC’ and was unveiled to an audience of GBRf and Network Rail colleagues at the West Midlands-based facility.

In July, GBRf announced it completed major upgrade projects funded by Network Rail worth over £1.5 million aimed at improving vital LDCs in Bescot and Eastleigh.

As part of the major upgrade project for Bescot LDC, GBRf completed a series of works to repair and renew underinvested and unsafe track at the site. This included the removal of abandoned buildings, lighting upgrade works, installation of Armco crash barriers, new safe walking routes and safety steps, and the reinstatement of derelict siding 1 by using recycled rail and sleepers.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said:

“Today’s naming cements our strong partnership with Network Rail to modernise this important facility. As rail activity grows across the West Midlands, Bescot LDC will play a crucial role in maintaining and renewing the area’s infrastructure.

“I’d like to thank the GBRf Project team who have completed an outstanding job.”