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


Rail freight UK

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.”