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.”

Young HS2 fan names new carbon-friendly freight train

Young HS2 fan names new carbon-friendly freight train

14th September 2021 – A teenage rail fan has today been given the honour of naming a Class 66 locomotive that will transport HS2 construction materials by rail to help reduce carbon emissions.

Jermaine Allen from Leeds unveiled the nameplate for GB Railfreight engine 66796, which he has named ‘The Green Progressor’, at the official opening of HS2’s new 30-acre logistics hub near Willesden Junction in London.

The locomotive features a brand-new livery, promoting the environmental benefits of delivering construction materials by rail instead of road, which inspired the name that Jermaine has chosen.

For every locomotive that HS2 uses to transport aggregates and construction materials, up to 76 lorries are removed from the UK’s roads and motorway network.

On average, around 100 freight trains per week are moving HS2 construction materials across the rail network, which not only makes our roads safer, but also supports HS2’s commitment to reduce the carbon impact of construction by at least 50%, as each tonne of freight transported by rail reduces CO2 emissions by 76% compared to road.

A self-confessed train fanatic, Jermaine has closely followed the story of HS2’s development and construction since he was five-years-old. Accompanied by his parents, Jermaine has visited several construction sites along the 140-mile route that HS2 will follow between the West Midlands and London Euston, learning about the construction methods that HS2 is adopting in readiness for the arrival of Britain’s high speed railway providing low carbon transport.

Today’s invitation to visit HS2’s new Logistics Hub, which has been constructed and will be operated by HS2’s construction partner, Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture (SCS JV), was a dream come true for the 15-year-old. But a special surprise on the day, organised by GB Railfreight and SCS JV, also saw Jermaine unveil a name plate for an engine named after him – a Class 08 shunting locomotive.

Speaking about his experience, Jermaine said:

It’s great to have this fantastic once in a lifetime opportunity. I feel very privileged to name this locomotive and to be playing a part in the delivery of Europe’s biggest infrastructure project.”

The Green Progressor will transport construction materials, spoil and aggregates to depots right across HS2’s Phase One route between the West Midlands and London. 66796 is one of five Class 66 locomotives imported from Germany by GB Railfreight to provide more capacity for Britain’s growing rail freight sector. It is scheduled to make its maiden journey by the end of the year, once refurbishment works – that will see the locomotive fitted with the latest communications systems – are carried out.

The locomotive’s new livery and the opportunity to extend an invitation to Jermaine to name it was facilitated by HS2’s Conventional Rail Interface Manager, Andrew Graham and GB Railfreight’s CEO, John Smith. Both organisations were keen to highlight the crucial role that transporting materials by freight plays in reducing carbon impacts, while providing the opportunity for a budding rail enthusiast to make his mark in the construction of this once in a lifetime project.

John Smith CEO of GB Railfreight, Jermaine Allen HS2 Superfan, Mark Thurston CEO of HS2, James Richard Managing Director of SCS, and Liz Rawlinson Project Manager at SCS

Andrew Graham, Conventional Rail Interface Manager at HS2 Ltd said:

“Jermaine’s passion, enthusiasm and knowledge is simply outstanding and we are delighted to have created this opportunity for him.”

Class 08 shunter ‘Jermaine’ will occupy a permanent base at HS2’s new logistics hub in Willesden where it will move wagons into position ready to transport and receive materials.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight said:

“It’s wonderful to provide a young rail enthusiast like Jermaine the opportunity to name one of our Class 66 locomotives. By choosing the name, ‘The Green Progressor’, he has truly captured the role rail freight can play in delivering a more sustainable logistics solution for the construction of HS2.

”Working with SCS JV, we were also honoured to celebrate Jermaine’s special connection to our railways by naming a Class 08 shunter after him.”

Over the next decade, up to 15,000 freight trains will haul 10 million tonnes of aggregate to HS2 construction sites, marking a significant investment for Britain’s rail freight sector.

Furthermore, once HS2 opens and moves long-distance, inter-city passenger services on to dedicated high-speed lines, the new railway will free up space for more freight services across the country, as well as additional local and regional passenger trains.

GB Railfreight’s regional investment continues with new Peterborough HQ, officially opened by Rail Minister

GB Railfreight’s regional investment continues with new Peterborough HQ, officially opened by Rail Minister

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight and Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Minister of State for Transport

Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, officially opened the new GB Railfreight (GBRf) Peterborough headquarters today, marking a major long-term investment into the local area by the leading UK rail freight company.

The new £3 million building accommodates GBRf’s traincrew and office staff including its 24-hour control centre, training and operations departments, as well as the asset management team.

GBRf will look to become the industry’s leading training provider for those embarking on a promising career in rail freight. The building plays host to three new purpose-built classrooms and state-of-the-art simulators which will be used to develop future generations of talent from the local area and beyond.

This year alone, 120 people are expected to use the facility and develop skills to qualify for a variety of roles from trainee train drivers to apprenticeships.

Sustainability and wellbeing are central to the new headquarters, with features such as solar panels, electric vehicle charging points and cycle racks as well as a catering hub and new shower facilities for its around the clock staff. This reinforces GBRf’s commitment to sustainability and investing in its workforce.

John Smith, Paul Bristow MP, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, Leader of the Peterborough City Council

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said:

The new Peterborough headquarters is one of GBRf’s single largest investments to date and builds on our ever-growing presence in the local community and commitment to regional development. As we build towards a brighter future, we want to foster the next generation of rail freight talent and our new headquarters will help us achieve this aim.”

Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Rail Minister, said:

“It is a pleasure to open the brand-new GB Railfreight headquarters, which will provide future generations with the essential skills and knowledge for a successful career in rail freight.

“Our rail freight sector has kept our country and economy moving through the pandemic, and we will continue to support the growth of this key industry, particularly as we look to decarbonise transport and deliver net-zero by 2050.”