GB Railfreight’s Duncan Clark Joins Rail Freight Group’s Board of Directors

GB Railfreight’s Duncan Clark Joins Rail Freight Group’s Board of Directors

GB Railfreight (GBRf) announces that Duncan Clark, our Director of Strategic Development, has been appointed to the Rail Freight Group (RFG) Board of Directors.

Duncan has a wealth of experience of the rail freight sector. He has been with GBRf since 2015 and looks after GBRf’s network capacity, business performance, major projects, business implantation, business improvement, sales, sales strategy, and external communications. Before joining GBRf he spent twelve months as Programme Director in the Digital Railway at Network Rail and before that was NR’s General Manager of Freight.

On his new position, Duncan said:

“I am honoured to have been appointed to this position and there can be no more important time for the voice of the rail freight sector to be strongly represented. The next Control Period, which Network Rail is in the process of agreeing with the Government, could be pivotal for the future competitiveness of rail freight. The RFG must ensure that it puts across the views of the sector and that it achieves the outcomes that will be best for all who operate on the railways.”

GBRf’s Managing Director, John Smith, said:

“Duncan is a worthy addition to the board and will bring all his extensive experience and no-nonsense approach to the RFG so that the group is as effective as it can be. We are extremely lucky to have him here at GBRf, and it is great to see that the rest of the industry will soon be able to benefit from his insights.

RFG is the leading representative body for rail freight in the UK, with a membership which includes some of the biggest names in logistics along with many smaller companies, all of which contribute to the success of rail freight. They are playing a vital role in the development of CP6, the next Network Rail funding period which will run from 2019-24, and GBRf is pleased to be able to contribute to this work.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Westbourne Communications
020 3397 0100
GBRF@westbournecoms.com

About GB Railfreight
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom, GB Railfreight is the third largest rail freight operator in the United Kingdom, with a turnover in excess of GBP 120m. GB Railfreight is one of the fastest growing companies in the railway sector and transports goods for a wide range of customers.

GB Railfreight raises £160,000 for good causes in 2017

GB Railfreight raises £160,000 for good causes in 2017

Staff at GB Railfreight (GBRf) spent 2017 raising money for three charities and on Saturday (27th January 2018) it was time to hand over the fruits of their efforts, with the worthy causes splitting £160,000 between them. Over the year, members from all levels of GBRf’s team embarked on a charity train tour, bike rides, half marathons, netball tournaments, football games, dress down days, cake sales, calendar sales and raised money from staff collections on away days.

Speaking on the efforts of his team, John Smith, GBRf’s managing director and parent company Hector Rail’s chief executive, said:

“I could not be prouder of my team for all their efforts during 2017 to raise money for these most worthy of causes. We hope that these sums will go some way towards helping them continue to fund their activities in 2018. They all do such amazing work, both in terms of national challenges, and for local communities that it has been our privilege to be able to associate ourselves with them.”

Speaking on behalf of the British Heart Foundation, the UK’s leading charity fighting to end heart disease which received £100,000 from GBRf’s fundraising efforts Sarah Miller said:

“We have been really impressed with all of the fundraising activities GBRf has gotten involved in…. We aim to invest £100 million into research every year to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease, and it’s thanks to companies like GBRf that we are able to do this…thank you for the time, the energy and the commitment you have all put into helping us continue our life saving work.”

The Ripple Project, which received £30,000, is based in Edinburgh and is a community-based venture that provides a variety of services to people of all ages, including youth mentoring, a local newspaper, and lunch clubs for elderly residents. In addition, its volunteers run the Hub Grub Café, which enables local people to come together and socialise over a cup of coffee and a cake. Speaking on the donation from GBRf, Fiona Cross of The Ripple Project said:

“You are a gift to the community, and your money had real impact in our charity…and our projects”

Also receiving £30,000 was Woking Homes, which aims to provide a secure, relaxed and homely environment in which the care, wellbeing and comfort of residents are of prime importance. They provide residential care for people who have worked in the railway industry and their spouses, from train drivers and ticket collectors to engineers, guards, and booking office staff.

Sarah Kemp, chief executive of Woking Homes said:

“We are very grateful for the generosity of GBRf staff, which has enabled us to replace our ageing minibus: the new one has the GBRf logo proudly displayed. It is also very important to us to ensure that the rail community as a whole is aware of the services we provide.”

GBRf will be continuing its fundraising efforts over the course of 2018 for Macmillan Cancer Support and Headway, a charity supporting those with brain injuries.

John Smith commented:

“Macmillan Cancer and Headway are both deeply personal charities for us, with various staff members having experience of the challenges they are seeking to address. I know everyone at GBRf is looking forward to doing their bit to ensure we raise as much, if not more, for our charity partners this year.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Westbourne Communications
020 3397 0100
GBRF@westbournecoms.com

Notes to editors

This press release was amended from the version that was sent out to correct an earlier error in the description of Woking Homes. GBRf is happy to make this clarification.

About GB Railfreight
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom, GB Railfreight is the third largest rail freight operator in the United Kingdom, with a turnover in excess of GBP 120m. GB Railfreight is one of the fastest growing companies in the railway sector and transports goods for a wide range of customers.For more information about GBRf’s 2017 charity partners, visit www.bhf.org.uk, http://rippleproject.co.uk/ripple-services/get-involved/, and http://www.woking-homes.co.uk/.
For more about GBRf’s 2018 charity partners, visit www.macmillan.org.uk and www.headway.org.uk.

GB Railfreight MD to lead parent group

GB Railfreight MD to lead parent group

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight (GBRf) has been appointed the new CEO of parent company Hector Rail Group and will assume his new role and responsibilities from Monday 8th January 2018.

Commenting on this appointment, Bo Lerenius, Hector Rail’s chairman said:

“With a solid background of developing and growing companies, John Smith has full insight of the challenges and opportunities that Hector Rail Group currently faces. The board is confident that John’s clear customer perspective and strong leadership will drive Hector Rail Group to become the leading independent pan-European rail freight operator.”

John Smith added:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build on what we started with GBRf, and to bring the knowledge that I have gained to our parent company. I plan to take that knowledge to Hector Rail, to continue to demonstrate the importance of rail freight in sustainable economic growth. I feel there are significant opportunities at closer co-operation between the operators across Europe, and I hope to be the voice for that effort.”

Duncan Clark, GBRf’s strategic development director, said:

“We are all obviously delighted for John that he is being given this opportunity, and believe this is a great chance for the good practice that GBRf has developed over the years to be implemented with Hector Rail. We are sure that he will make excellent use of this chance to cement his position as the pre-eminent spokesman for the rail freight sector in the UK, and become its leader across Europe.”

John Smith founded GB Railfreight in 1999 and is the company’s Managing Director. He has over 40 years of experience from the rail industry, including various leading positions at British Rail and Anglia Railways.

Founded in 2004, Hector Rail is a Swedish-based independent train haulage provider for the European rail transport market. They produce approximately 7.2m train km/year in operations in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany.

They provide modern rail solutions with the highest quality and performance, creating value for customers through innovative and efficient solutions. Clients include industrial shippers, forwarders, intermodal operators, and traditional railway companies.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Westbourne Communications
020 3397 0100
GBRF@westbournecoms.com

About GB Railfreight
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom, GB Railfreight is the third largest rail freight operator in the United Kingdom, with a turnover in excess of GBP 120m. GB Railfreight is one of the fastest growing companies in the railway sector and transports goods for a wide range of customers.

For further information about GB Railfreight, please visit www.gbrailfreight.com
For further information about Hector Rail Group, please visit www.hectorrail.com

GB Railfreight leads the sector on ERTMS installation

GB Railfreight leads the sector on ERTMS installation

Earlier this month (Wednesday 6th December 2017) GB Railfreight (GBRf), and the other Freight Operating Companies (FOCs), agreed a landmark partnership deal with Network Rail and Siemens leading to the introduction of the European Train Control Systems (ETCS) in the freight sector. This will enable the installation of European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) in-cab signalling in all freight sector locomotives, some 800 engines and more than 15 ‘first-in-class’ designs.

ERTMS will allow for the interoperability of trains across the European Union and aims to vastly improve safety and efficiency by introducing a single, new Europe-wide standard for train control and command systems. With this agreement now in place, GBRf will be able to upgrade its locomotives and ensure that it is able to operate and compete with other FOCs across Europe for the foreseeable future.

GBRf’s Strategic Development Director, Duncan Clark, who played a key role in the formation of the agreement, said:

“GBRf has long recognised the importance of this project and has been working with the government for a number of years as it has increased its focus on the digitalisation of transport and infrastructure. This agreement marks a turning point for the rail sector, with ERTMS ensuring that the rail network is used more efficiently, freeing up capacity, which we hope the rail freight industry will benefit from.”

Nigel Jones, board member of the Rail Freight Group and chair of the Freight Stakeholder Group, who oversaw the agreement, said:

“It is a tremendous achievement – the first time the freight sector, and possibly the rail sector, have come together despite such a competitive environment to work with NR in such a way to put an efficient, flexible framework in place.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Westbourne Communications
020 3397 0100
GBRF@westbournecoms.com

About GB Railfreight
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom, GB Railfreight is the third largest rail freight operator in the United Kingdom, with a turnover in excess of GBP 120m. GB Railfreight is one of the fastest growing companies in the railway sector and transports goods for a wide range of customers.

For further information, please visit www.gbrailfreight.com

GB Railfreight continues to invest in new rolling stock

GB Railfreight continues to invest in new rolling stock

On Tuesday 28th November GB Railfreight (GBRf) took delivery of the first of its brand new, purpose-built IIA hoppers, which will be used to transport sand on behalf of Sibelco from Middleton Towers in East Anglia to Barnby Dun, Monk Bretton and Goole in Yorkshire. Arriving at Whitemoor Yard in Cambridgeshire, pulled by loco 66746, the hoppers had an arduous journey across Europe, having been constructed by Greenbriar in Poland. They will be entering service in the coming weeks.

Commenting on their arrival, GBRf Managing Director John Smith said: “These new hoppers represent GBRf’s continued commitment to excellent customer service, to increased investment in our business and to our continued support for UK plc. We will be able to run shorter, faster trains ensuring timely delivery and demonstrating again the vital role that rail freight plays in keeping the UK economy going.

“The sand we are delivering will all be used in the manufacturing of glass products. Keeping this off our roads and on the railways decreases congestion, helps tackle air quality issues and improves economic productivity. That is why GBRf is continuing to invest and grow as a business, and pushing to have rail freight’s role in delivering the UK economy recognised and expanded.”

Andrew Smith, Sibelco’s Network Logistics Manager, SW Europe, said: “We are delighted to see our new wagons arrive in UK. The rail service provided by GB Railfreight is an integral element in our supply of high purity Silica sand to the glass industry. The new wagons will enable us to continue providing our customers with a reliable, sustainable, environmentally-friendly service and avoid the need for many hundreds of lorry movements.”

The new fleet of 41 hoppers, which replaces the old 71 single-axle PAA wagons inherited at the start of the contract, can hold up to 70 tonnes each, meaning services can run shorter 14-wagon services and still deliver the same tonnage. Additionally, the wagons can travel at up to 75 mph when empty, meaning the Southbound 6L31 and 6L987 paths can be re-timed as class 4s.

The hoppers’ doors are also powered by air from the locomotive rather than from an external air supply via a lance, while the bogies are the track-friendlier T-25 varieties and will reduce track access costs.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Westbourne Communications
020 3397 0100
GBRF@westbournecoms.com

About GB Railfreight
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom, GB Railfreight is the third largest rail freight operator in the United Kingdom, with a turnover in excess of GBP 120m. GB Railfreight is one of the fastest growing companies in the railway sector and transports goods for a wide range of customers.

For further information, please visit www.gbrailfreight.com

GB Railfreight objects to additional network charges

GB Railfreight objects to additional network charges

GB Railfreight (GBRf) has responded to the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) consultation on charges to recover fixed network costs. In this response, GBRf has reiterated its commitment to defend its interests and the interests of its customers for the benefit of the sustainability of freight on rail.

Objecting strongly to the increase and introduction of charging on commodities such as ESI coal and biomass, GBRf’s response argues that any increase in rail costs will add to the overall increase in energy generation costs. This comes at a time when the government is giving serious focus to the cost of energy to the consumer, and would seemingly contradict their efforts to reduce this burden.

Speaking on the consultation’s key proposals, Duncan Clark, Strategic Development Director at GBRf said: “This consultation is an exercise in buck-passing, with the ORR determining that it is reasonable to pass network inefficiencies on to the rail freight sector in the form of increased or new charges. If fixed network costs were continuing to increase while industry authorities, particularly Network Rail, were becoming more efficient, we might consider an increase in charges as fair, however we do not see any evidence of this.

“The proposals in this consultation risk further undermining the profitability of the rail freight sector at a time when government says it is committed to improving air quality and economic productivity. Introducing measures that would see more freight move onto the road network, or demand reduce for commodities such as biomass as it becomes increasingly expensive to transport, conflicts with these aims and we hope that our response, as well as the responses of the wider rail freight sector, convinces the authorities to not introduce new charges.”

The response identifies four factors that the ORR and Network Rail should be considering if they are to be taken seriously in their desire to see a thriving rail freight sector:

  1. Long-term charging certainty;
  2. Sustainability of existing rail contracts based on the ability to guarantee access for freight to the network;
  3. Potential for further rail freight growth by identifying latent network capacity;
  4. Investment linked to incentives.

In their current forms, GBRf felt the ORR’s proposals showed a lack of understanding of freight and end user contracts and the ability of Freight Operating Companies to absorb any mark-up or pass-through. They also demonstrate that there is little evidence of a clear understanding of the actual costs of energy generation from biomass, and thus an inability to develop a fair and reasonable charging model. GBRf therefore feels there is diminishing confidence in the ability of ORR to accurately understand the profitability of rail freight haulage in the UK.

ENDS

The full consultation response can be found here.

For further information, please contact:
Westbourne Communications
020 3397 0100
GBRF@westbournecoms.com

About GB Railfreight
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom, GB Railfreight is the third largest rail freight operator in the United Kingdom, with a turnover in excess of GBP 120m. GB Railfreight is one of the fastest growing companies in the railway sector and transports goods for a wide range of customers.

For further information, please visit www.gbrailfreight.com

GB Railfreight delivers Christmas

GB Railfreight delivers Christmas

Even Father Christmas needs a helping hand and this year GB Railfreight (GBRf) will be taking some of the load as it begins to deliver products that will soon be on the shelves of the UK’s major grocery stores and retailers, ready to be opened by adults and children alike all over the UK in time for the 25th December.

Operating its first intermodal service from Solent Stevedores terminal at ABP Port of Southampton to ABP Hams Hall Rail Freight Terminal, GBRf will be helping to spread Christmas cheer and ensuring supermarkets and high street stores meet what is expected to be high levels of demand over Christmas.

Speaking about the opportunity, John Smith, GBRf’s managing director, said: “GBRf is delighted that we, along with our new client Wincanton, will be able to help Father Christmas bring joy and happiness to the whole country this year. And that we will be able to do so in a way that reduces the impact that moving so many presents around could have on things like air quality, if they went by road. Our priority at this time of year is to ensure that everyone has a very merry Christmas, and we will be working to deliver this to the whole of the UK.”

This marks a significant expansion of GBRf’s activities as it will be the second deep-sea port from which the company operates rail services. It realises a long-held ambition.

At 02:39am, the class 66 engine 66703 Doncaster PSB departed hauling 34 platforms fully laden with containers on its first round-trip on behalf of Wincanton, a service that will operate daily (Tuesday to Saturday). Its containers will carry cargo for major high street retailers that will end up distributed across the country for consumers to purchase in time for Christmas.

GBRf will operate this service for five years, having been awarded the contract on Friday 20th October, and continues to demonstrate how the company is one of the rail freight industry’s great success stories. This has seen it pioneer the development of alternative core commodity markets such as intermodal freight.
John Smith also said: “I am so proud to see GBRf continue to grow and expand into new markets, working with new clients, and showing how rail can help decongest our roads and clean our air. This new contract is a testament to our staff’s work ethic and their dedication to the highest standard of customer service.

“Over the next five years we will work closely with our new partners at Wincanton to ensure we deliver the services they require and provide their business with the certainty they need. We are sure that this is only the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership that will enable both organisations to flourish.”

Also commenting on the new service, Fiona Robson Managing Director of Solent Stevedores said

“We are pleased to welcome GBRf as a rail user to our terminal and look forward to the continued expansion of more rail freight from ABP Port of Southampton.”

ABP Southampton has also undergone recent upgrades that will support the new contract between GBRf and Wincanton. £2.4m has been invested in a new 5.8 acre facility operated by Solent Stevedores, which has seen turnaround times halved, vastly improved capacity, and driven container throughput.

Alastair Welch, ABP Southampton Director, said: “The improvements to the rail freight facilities enable Solent Stevedores to increase the number of containers they can handle and an increase to the number of trains coming to the port. This is an excellent example of partnership working.”

ENDS
For further information, please contact:
Westbourne Communications
020 3397 0100
GBRF@westbournecoms.com

About GB Railfreight
Founded in 1999 and headquartered in London, United Kingdom, GB Railfreight is the third largest rail freight operator in the United Kingdom, with a turnover in excess of GBP 120m. GB Railfreight is one of the fastest growing companies in the railway sector and transports goods for a wide range of customers.
For further information, please visit www.gbrailfreight.com

Brexit: a risk to Britain’s rail freight sector

Brexit: a risk to Britain’s rail freight sector

It seems clear that any exit from the EU will lead to an economic recession. The only arguments appear to be around how deep and long this will be.

The last time GB Railfreight (GBRf) faced similar circumstances was back in 2008. At that time, we experienced a reduction in intermodal demand and watched from afar as aggregates traffic collapsed. Fortunately for us, we weren’t exposed to aggregates and had invested in coal. This proved to be a stroke of genius as coal became buoyant for a number of years. All of this was more luck than judgement and we consequently rode out the country’s severe economic downturn.

This time around, we won’t be as lucky.  We are surviving the coal downturn (which, incidentally, is due to much more draconian carbon emissions controls than are required by the EU) by growing in other markets, particularly passenger, aggregates and intermodal. All of these markets would be hit hard by a recession, leaving GBRf in very difficult waters.

It is also worth reflecting on a number of our commercial arrangements in the light of our EU membership. Many of our customers have strong links to the rest of Europe. Czech business, EPH, has bought Lynemouth Power; Aggregate Industries is owned by the French/German conglomerate LafargeHolcim; and EDF Energy is French-owned. The list goes on.

Most importantly, we buy our wagons in Romania and Poland. Our membership makes trade simple and quick. As we speak, I’m about to sign a letter of intent for 50 sand hoppers for Siniat, and there are no duties to pay, no taxes and no tariffs.

From a personal, more emotional standpoint, managing a business in a recession is never easy and will always have an effect on all our circumstances. I’m not an economist so I have no idea if all the above would have happened were we outside the EU. What I do know is that it HAS all happened whilst we have been members and that membership has been a huge help.

Secondly, it is clear that to leave will create a political and commercial vacuum. Businesses like EPH won’t be attracted to invest until they are clear of the rules. With all the political negotiations that will have to take place, it could take years to sort this out; years that will (in my opinion) see a long, hard recession that will negatively impact us all. One particular area of concern is our border with France and what this could mean for controls at Calais.

So overall, it’s very definitely IN from my perspective. The logic of leaping into the unknown is definitely not attractive. Whilst the EU is bureaucratic and on occasions frustrating, I see no reason to think this will change in isolation. What makes the EU work is not Brussels or Strasbourg, but businesses like our own doing deals across Europe day-in day-out, deals that are facilitated by our membership.

Safeguard capacity, not wires, in CP5

Safeguard capacity, not wires, in CP5

In response to the Government’s review of Network Rail and its CP5 programme, I wrote a letter to RAIL Magazine outlining my views. In short, we should not get too hung up about the cancellation of electrification programmes so long as they continue to invest in key capacity enhancements on the network. You can read the letter in full below.

It is capacity that is important, not wires above the tracks

Political, industry and media figures alike have voiced their concerns over the delayed electrification plans announced in the Transport Secretary’s speech to the Commons last week.

While I can see the benefits both the Midland Main Line (MML) and TransPennine electrification plans will bring to passenger and freight services, I think people are looking at this incorrectly.

If a delay to these electrification programmes is accompanied by continued investment in CP5 capacity enhancements – particularly on the MML – then I welcome the Government’s announcement. It is capacity that is important, not wires above the tracks.

There are CP5 projects still in place that will provide more extensive capacity improvements in the short-medium term. Two schemes that are particularly important are the four tracking from Kettering to Corby and from Bedford to just north of Kettering.

Take the line to the north of Bedford, for example. The combination of stopping and non-stopping
passenger services is a major constraint for freight paths. So is the mixture of four, three and two-track alignments. Four-tracking this route would tackle many of the bottlenecks along the line and cater for future freight and passenger growth. This is far more valuable in the short-term than overhead wires.

The Secretary of State has made it clear that further changes will be made to fundamental CP5 projects. As the incoming Sir Peter Hendy and Dame Colette Bow develop their proposals for better investment in and operations of the rail improvement programme, it is vital that capacity enhancements such as four-tracking plans are taken forward to safeguard freight services.

Another policy I would publically call for is a re-evaluation of timetabling for the MML, in order to free up more freight paths. In RAIL’s Issue I775, GBRf’s very own Phil Amos described the restrictions that exist on our services for Aggregate Industries. It needs to be recognised that industry markets fluctuate and timetabling must be regularly updated to reflect that.

With Network Rail due to report on CP5 projects in the autumn, let’s put electrification to one side and urge the infrastructure provider to safeguard these key capacity enhancement projects to cater for short-term freight and passenger growth.