GB Railfreight looks towards Europe in Channel Tunnel deal

GB Railfreight looks towards Europe in Channel Tunnel deal

The new service furthers GB Railfreight’s plans to achieve growth in the international marketplace

GB Railfreight (GBRf) recently ran its first rail service through the Channel Tunnel for Europorte France (EPF), on behalf of John G Russell, transporting containers from Dourges (France) to Barking (UK).

The second leg of the journey, from Calais Frethun to Barking International Rail Freight Terminal, was undertaken by GBRf locomotives 92032 and 92028 and completed in less than two hours.  The locomotives are two of the company’s 16 Class 92s, purchased from Europorte earlier this year, and will be used on this route.

Acting as a supplier to EPF, the contractors on the scheme, the deal will see GBRf undertake a hook-and-haul service on the Frethun to Barking HS1-exchange portion five times per week.

John G Russell, the Glasgow-based UK multimodal logistics provider, procured EPF to run services for its customers, 2XL and Novatrans, over a three-year period.  It will involve the transport of products for Procter & Gamble and other manufacturers.

The event marked an important moment for both GBRf and EPF.  For GBRf, it represents the next step in its plans for future growth of international traffic, as well as the development towards the use of electric haulage on the UK network.  These are both aims that have been at the forefront of the company agenda, since it purchased the Class 92s.

From an EPF perspective, it signifies progression in the utilisation of a route that achieves European capability with delivery right to the outskirts of London. Furthermore, it exemplifies efficiencies that can be gained from cross-Channel rail, compared to maritime routes, in terms of reducing unnecessary ground handling and limiting carbon emissions.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said: “We’re delighted to be working closely with Europorte France and John G Russell in developing cross-Channel rail.  Following the procurement of 16 Class 92s back in February, it’s been the company’s aim to move into the international market, supporting trade links between the UK and the European mainland.

“This contract is a sign that we are heading in the right direction.  In addition, the utilisation of class 92s on the HS1 line further supports our commitment to sustainable freight transport.”

Kenneth Russell, Director at John G Russell Ltd, said: “This is the very first short distance train to cross the channel and I’m delighted with the way it’s gone.  I’d like to thank all the parties involved, especially Europorte, and particularly our customers, who saw the benefits and patiently waited for them to be a reality.

“The round trip between Barking and Lille Dourges has to take place within a tight timeframe, and by achieving a minimum of five rotations each week, we achieve the best asset utilisation to enhance its commercial potential.  This new train route is a massive opportunity for us and for companies on both sides of the channel to take advantage of the efficiencies and environmental benefit of rail”.