GB Railfreight signs contract with Progress Rail for Class 56 and 69 repowers

GB Railfreight (GBRf) is delighted to announce that it has signed a lease and contract with Progress Rail for a new repower project, following the purchase of 16 locomotives from UK Rail Leasing (UKRL) in June 2018. Progress Rail’s facility at Longport, Stoke-on-Trent, will repower the 16 Class 56 locomotives with EMD engines. The locomotives, which will be redesignated as Class 69, enable the continued expansion of the UK’s fastest growing rail freight company.

With the first prototype 69 001 locomotive due for delivery in May 2020, the contract will upgrade the original British Rail Class 56 locomotives, reusing assets at risk of becoming scrapped or underutilized. Originally built during 1976-1984, the Class 56 repower conversion will upgrade the locomotives existing Ruston-Paxman RK3 engines and control gear with EMD 12-710 Series engines, rated for EU Stage IIIA emissions certification, and updated electronic controls, based upon the world-renowned Class 66 locomotives.

The upgrade ensures modernized and environmentally friendly locomotives, with more power, reduced fuel consumption and improved emissions, along with enhanced driver cab environment and performance.

The re-engineering of these locomotives will benefit the wider UK rail freight market, providing a powerful fleet which meets stringent EU emissions regulations. It will also address the shortage of locomotives currently available in the UK, with increased availability providing greater flexibility to GBRf and their customers by enabling the movement of other heavy freight locomotives around the country and more flexibility to different flows.

Delivery of the initial Class 69 will also be significant, becoming the first in the class, it will be named and have special livery with a press launch to be advised.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“This is a fantastic move, which will enable GBRf to expand its operations significantly, whilst also providing the extra freight capacity the industry really needs. I remember working on the BR Class 56’s as a young engineer, and it really will be amazing to see them come back into use under the GBRf banner!

It’s also great to see the continuation of our partnership with Progress Rail and their EMD locomotives and engines, with whom we first worked on such a project back in 2013- long may our successful relationship continue.”

Billy Ainsworth, Group President of Energy & Transportation for Caterpillar Inc., said:

“As a part of Caterpillar, we believe in delivering sustainable solutions. Progress Rail is pleased to see our customers also support that mission. We look forward to helping GBRf with their freight initiatives through our EMD brand, this time working together to ensure rail upgrades become a reality for the United Kingdom. Renewing fleets, such as GBRf’s, with our advanced EMD engines and upgraded locomotive technologies, will allow the railway to achieve lower emissions and higher performance compared to prior models.”

GB Railfreight Celebrate Release Of Newly Repainted Class 47s

GB Railfreight (GBRf) are today proud to release from repaint two of their Rail Service Class 47 locomotives, numbers 47 739 and 47 749 named ‘City of Truro.’

The locomotives have been repainted by Arlington Fleet Services at Eastleigh and will be moved to Leicester, where they will be based specially for GBRf Rail Service moves of rolling stock. These locomotives have been fitted, along with a third 47 727, with translator and Dellner Couplings for hauling unit stock moves.

47 739 has been painted in the GBRf blue livery and 47 749 has been painted in British Rail blue livery with GBRf logos and red backed nameplates. Both have the new GBRf Rail Services logo applied.

Bob Tiller, Director of Engineering at GBRf, said:

“GBRf are pleased to have refurbished and repainted these locomotives to provide a reliable and efficient traction to our Rail Services division. With the inbuilt translator equipment, we can provide a flexible service to multiple unit moves and other rolling stock.”

GB Railfreight Supporting Headway and Macmillian

Over the past decade, GBRf has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for national and local charities. These charities change periodically but are always chosen by GBRf employees, and are often linked with railway personnel. Currently we are supporting Headway and Macmillan. We encourage your to visit their websites and read about the amazing work these charities do, amazing work only made possible by people like you supporting them.

GBRf encourages all its employees to take part in fundraising events, these can range from a bake sale to running a 5 day charter train. Pictured above is Daniel Matthews, delivering 40 bags of cloths /bric-à-brac to Headways head office in Nottingham

GB Railfreight Launches New Service From Birch Coppice To Felixstowe

GB Railfreight were this week delighted to launch their new intermodal service from Birch Coppice to Felixstowe. The move demonstrates the sustained growth of GBRf as a business, with the launch marking its 5th new intermodal service in the past 18 months and 2nd service into the Birch Coppice terminal.

The Maritime Transport liveried locomotive left Birch Coppice at 14.14 on Tuesday 22nd January, arriving at Felixstowe at 20.14 the same day, passing through Hams Hall, Leicester, Peterborough and Ipswich along the way. Made up of 33 platforms, the service will transport a mixture of intermodal boxes, and will initially run 5 days a week. The move marks the continued expansion of GBRf’s intermodal offering, numbering its 13th intermodal service to date.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight said:

“We’re thrilled to be putting on this new service, which will be running on a daily basis. It is demonstrative of the wider sea change we are seeing in the rail freight industry, as the UK moves from its industrial roots to become a service and consumer- led economy. This is reflected in the fact that intermodal traffic now accounts for approximately 36% of rail freight industry wide.

The route is also practical, with this new Midlands service meaning Birch Coppice can accommodate business that was going to Hams Hall, allowing our client Wincanton additional space for its logistics operation that is centred around the ABP facility.”

GB Railfreight and Class 50 Alliance collaboration sealed with locomotive repaints

UK rail freight operator GB Railfreight (GBRf) and the Class 50 Alliance (C50A) have today announced that mainline registered Class 50 locomotives 50007 Hercules and 50049 Defiance are to be repainted into the latest GBRf livery.

GBRf worked closely with the C50A in enabling a return to the mainline for their locomotives in 2017 and subsequently through a programme of railtours during 2018 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Class 50s.

The decision to repaint the locomotives into the striking new livery is a recognition of the developing relationship between the two organisations and marks a new chapter in the story of the Class 50s.

Over the past two years, GBRf has invested in a programme of driver training to enable Class 50 operation over much of the UK rail network. The company has also operated several railtours using the 50007 and 50049s, including The Caledonian in October 2017, returning class 50s to Glasgow for their 50th anniversary.

The repaints will be carried out by Arlington Fleet Services at Eastleigh. GBRf will fund the repainting and also manage the movement of the locomotives to and from Eastleigh.

The first outing for the GBRf-liveried Class 50s will be on Saturday 23rd March when they will work Pathfinder Tours’ Teminator-Pheonixed railtour from London Paddington to Penzance and return to Waterloo. This train will mark 25 years since the final BR operated Class 50 railtour over the same route, The Terminator, which was also promoted by Pathfinder.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“I am delighted that GBRf is sponsoring the repainting of 50007, Hercules and 50049, Defiance, into GBRf livery. Our relationship with the class 50 alliance has grown over the years, with the painting of the two locomotives being an excellent way to recognise the fact. Having first witnessed class 50’s at Crewe in the early 1970s, I never thought the day would arise when one would be painted in the livery of GBRf. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the finished article(s).”

Jonathan Dunster, Director Class 50 Alliance said:

“Today’s announcement marks a significant next step in the story of the Class 50s, and we’re delighted to build on our already successful relationship with GBRf.”

“Since we successfully returned Class 50s to the mainline in 1997, we have gained a great deal of experience, working with many stakeholders across the industry. We have operated around 80 railtours, supplied power for timetabled service trains in South Wales and operated numerous freight and route learning duties. For GBRf to cement our relationship in this way is fantastic news and we look forward to working with the team on an exciting future programme, which kicks off in style when we head to Penzance on 23rd March.”

Following the repaints, the locomotives will be available to operate selected GBRf trains on a ‘spot-hire’ basis. This work will include movement of locomotives between heritage railway gala events, and future railtours. The locomotives will continue to be based at the Severn Valley Railway, but will have easy access to the national network, thanks to the 24-hour connection at Kidderminster.

50007 and 50049 will be unveiled in their new livery at a private event at Eastleigh Works, prior to working a test run and then the railtour on 23rd March.

GB Railfreight To Continue Successful Partnership With Liberty British Aluminium

GB Railfreight are today delighted to announce that they will be continuing their successful partnership with Liberty British Aluminium, having agreed to extend their contract for another three years.

The contract will see GBRf class 66 locomotives hauling alumina from North Blyth to Fort William, on a service that will run six days a week. The service enables the delivery of critical supplies to an industry which is not only central to the West Highlands, but the Scottish economy as a whole.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“We are delighted to see the extension of this historic relationship between GB Railfreight and Liberty British Aluminium. The move will ensure the continuation of rail freight on the West Highland line.

Our ambition at GBRf is to see an increase in the amount of goods and materials transported via rail freight, taking trucks off the road and benefiting the environment.

Ensuring the delivery of materials to a key Scottish industry also secures employment in the West Highlands, and we are proud of the role GBRf are playing in ensuring the economic prosperity of the area.”

Liberty British Aluminium said:

“We at Liberty are incredibly proud to own and operate the only remaining UK aluminium smelter in Fort William. Our partnership with GB Railfreight is important in maintaining the operation of the smelter and our continued investment and growth; creating jobs in the West Highlands.”

Bill Reeve, Transport Scotland’s Director of Rail, said:

“A competitive, sustainable rail freight sector supports our communities and our economy through a safe, green and efficient way of transporting products and materials.

The Scottish Government welcomes the continued commitment of British Aluminium to rail freight to provide the raw materials for its production. This is another example of the importance of the West Highland Line to the economy, environment and communities of Lochaber.”

About Liberty British Aluminium

Liberty British Aluminium is part of the GFG Alliance, a London-headquartered international group of businesses, founded and owned by the British Gupta Family, with annual revenue of over US$15 billion and around 14,000 staff. It combines energy generation, metal manufacturing, engineering, natural resources and financial services, working together to deliver a common business strategy. The Alliance comprises Liberty – an integrated industrial and metals business – SIMEC – a resources and infrastructure group – Wyelands – a banking and financial services arm JAHAMA Estates – a division that manages and develops the Alliance’s global property holdings – and GFG Foundation which focuses on the retention and creation of engineering and industrial skills.

GB Railfreight Announces New London Gateway- Rotherham Service

GB Railfreight are pleased to announce that on Monday 5th November 2018, it saw the commencement of a new service out of London Gateway into Rotherham, marking the continued expansion of routes covered by GB Railfreight across the country.

The Class 66 locomotive no. 66714 departed from London Gateway at 04.45 on 5th November, arriving at Rotherham at 12:10 on the same day. The export then departed Rotherham at 15.40, with the export load up marking its first commercial service, heading back to London Gateway, arriving at 01:18 the following day.

Made up of 37 platforms, the new service will run 5 times per week on a round trip basis.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“We are thrilled the be expanding the routes covered by GB Railfreight to include this new service from Rotherham to London Gateway. Many thanks to our partners the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Newell & Wright (NWT) for helping to make this a possibility.”

Paul Barker, Commercial Director of NWT, said:

“We are delighted to receive this new 5-day service provided by GBRf from London Gateway into our Terminal in Rotherham.

The service is contracted from GBRf between MSC and Newell & Wright, further extending our rail services into Rotherham and providing our existing customer base with a multi-port option for moving containers into the Yorkshire area with onward delivery and other related services.”

Paul Garnham, Head of Intermodal & Head of Logistics at MSC, said:

“MSC in conjunction with GBRf are delighted to be able to offer a new daily rail service from London Gateway to NWT Rotherham. The service commenced operation on Monday 5th November and will run five days a week, Monday through Friday.

MSC has a long-standing relationship with GBRf going back to 2002 when we commenced our very first contract trains into West Yorkshire and the Midlands and we are excited to introduce this new rail service into our rail and road offering that complements our extensive and market leading UK landside coverage.”

GB Railfreight’s charity charter trains raises over £145,000 for amazing causes

Starting on Thursday 20th September, GB Railfreight (GBRf) ran their Second 4-day marathon charity rail tour, raising money for some amazing causes.

The four day charter saw passengers travelling to an array of locations across the UK. On day one, passengers travelled from London Victoria to Bristol and Bridgend, before returning to London Paddington. Day two saw travellers leave London Euston and travel to Wellingborough and Tonbridge before returning to London Waterloo. The weekend was an overnight trip which started at London Waterloo on Saturday, before travelling to Blackpool North, via the Central Belt of Scotland to Fort William before stopping for the night in Glasgow, and returning to London Paddington on Sunday morning

During the tour, 18 locomotives were used and there were a number of firsts. On day one of the tour, the train’s return into London Paddington marked the arrival of the first electric locomotive into the station carrying passengers, the same was true of its entry to Blackpool North on day three of the tour. It is also highly unusual for passenger services to visit Wellingborough and Tonbridge freight yards.

The tour was the brainchild of GBRf Managers Paul Taylor, Dale Williams and Ian Grey. But these tours could not be done without the help of over 50 staff across the GBRf team, including volunteer Train Managers, Guards and an army of stewards and helpers from all parts of the business.

In total the four-day event raised £145,732. This will go towards GBRf’s two chosen charities: Macmillan Cancer Support and Headway.

Macmillan not only helps with the medical needs of people affected by cancer, but also looks at the social, emotional and practical impact cancer can have, and campaigns for better cancer care.

Headway works to promote understanding of all aspects of brain injury and provide information, support and services to survivors, their families and carers. It was chosen by GBRf following one of its staff members suffering a brain aneurysm in January 2017. GBRf has been supporting these charities since the beginning of 2018 and will continue to do so until the end of this year.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“I am absolutely thrilled that for a second time, the GBRf team has pulled together such a fantastic schedule of routes and locos to raise money for causes that are very close to GBRf’s heart.
These amazing tours are a testament to the GBRf team, from the office staff, to train crews and planners, who give up their own time to make them happen. I am very proud of the fact that including this charity tour and other fund-raising events GB Railfreight have raised over £155,000 for charity this year, so far”

Paul Taylor, General Manager at GB Railfreight, said:

“We would also like to give special thanks to our suppliers, in particular fellow FOCs Colas and Freightliner and the infrastructure provider Network Rail, who’s kind efforts and contributions make the tour a possibility.”

Hanson Restores Rail Link To Ashton-In-Makerfield With The Help Of GB Railfreight

Hanson has invested £250,000 in restoring the railway siding at its plant in Ashton-in-Makerfield. It is the first time rail freight has been run into the depot for some 10 years, and will see hundreds of lorry journeys taken off the roads each year.

Working in partnership with GB Railfreight, Hanson will run three trains a week from its quarry in Shap, Cumbria down to its site in Ashton. It is expected that over 200,000 tonnes of material will be taken by rail each year along this new route, which saw its first service run on 15th October.

Hanson UK’s regional general manager for the north Simon Day said: “The investment in the site is an important part of our rail strategy. We are working to try to increase the tonnage of aggregates we transport this way across the UK. These three trains a week will take around 1,500 truck journeys off the road each year and mean that we only need to put the material onto road transport for the last 5 – 10 miles rather than the 60 – 80 miles we do now. This will reduce the distances travelled on the road by our truck fleet by around 500,000 miles per year.”

GB Railfreight’s Managing Director John Smith said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Hanson on this new service, which will be using one of GB Railfreight’s recently purchased class 60 locomotives.This partnership is further demonstration of the role freight can play in taking trucks off the road and reducing emissions.”

The material will be used by the company’s asphalt and concrete plants as well as supplying the construction market in the north west of England.

As well as refurbishing the rail track serving the site, money is being spent on upgrading the depot including the installation of a new weighbridge and office facilities.

About Hanson UK
Hanson is the UK’s leading supplier of heavy building materials to the construction industry, employing 3,500 people and producing aggregates (crushed rock, sand and gravel), ready-mixed concrete, asphalt, cement and cement-related materials. Hanson is part of the HeidelbergCement Group, one of the largest building materials manufacturers in the world.

For further information please contact:
Phil Pitt, Hanson communications and marketing
01628 774113