New Class 66 locomotives signal further growth for GB Railfreight

New Class 66 locomotives signal further growth for GB Railfreight

One of GB Railfreight’s new Class 66 locomotives being unloaded onto the quayside at the Port of Newport

The arrival of the first batch of its new Class 66 locomotives from the USA has been heralded by GB Railfreight.  They represent the first batch of an order of 21 Class 66s from Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) and are part of the company’s largest ever investment in new locomotives.

The locomotives started their journey at EMD’s manufacturing facility in Muncie, Indiana, where they were assembled before being shipped to the Port of Newport in South Wales.  The next two batches will be arriving on UK shores over the next six months.

Following their arrival at the port, the locomotives were unloaded and coupled together again, prior to being transported to EMD’s maintenance depot in Doncaster.

The purchase of 21 Class 66 diesel locomotives will take GB Railfreight’s current Class 66 fleet to 71.  They have been secured ahead of the change in EU emissions legislation which, from January 2015, sees new regulations coming into force that could impact the ability to obtain compliant and affordable locomotives.

The company hopes this procurement drive will assist in doubling turnover over the next three years, supporting the creation of more jobs and encouraging growth into new freight sectors.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:As a company, we have had an exceptional year.  These locomotives will allow us to grow our business further in 2015 and continue to provide our customers with the optimum level of service, signifying the confidence we have in the development of the UK rail freight sector and helping us keep the UK economy moving.

“We have been working closely with EMD on this project and I want to thank them for all their hard work and dedication in reaching this point.  We hope to continue this relationship throughout the rest of the manufacturing and delivery process.”

Billy Ainsworth, Progress Rail and EMD President and Chief Executive Officer, added: “I am extremely pleased that after an exhaustive search of different options available, GBRf selected the EMD Class 66 locomotive as it provides optimal product life cycle cost through its durability, reliability and sustainability.  GBRf’s decision reinforces EMD’s position as the leading locomotive provider in the markets we serve.” 

GB Railfreight operates around 650 trains a week in the UK and is the main transporter of coal on the rail network and one of only two rail freight companies with regular contracts to move biomass.