Porterbrook and Rail Operations Group move into light parcel logistics

Porterbrook and Rail Operations Group move into light parcel logistics

Rail leasing company Porterbrook is to supply Rail Operations Group (ROG) with bi-mode trains to support the company’s expansion into the rail postal industry. 

Porterbrook said increasing congestion on the road network, a shortage of HGV drivers and the rapid growth in online shopping has led many shipping firms to explore rail as a key part of their logistics chain, but a lack of suitable trains has thus far delayed the move.

Porterbrook, working with ROG, will renovate two of its Flex trains for light logistics traffic which are capable of operating on both electrified and non-electrified routes. The operational flexibility of the bi-mode Flex train will complement the flexibility of ROG’s offering to light logistics shippers. The trains can be made available to single users (one customer secures all space within the train) or to multi-users depending on the shippers’ day-to-day requirements or need to meet deadlines.

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said: "We are excited be breaking new ground with ROG as we both move into light parcel logistics for the first time. The UK’s light logistics sector is experiencing huge changes and we’re delighted that we can support the sustainable solution on the rail network. Porterbrook is particularly pleased that ROG have recognised the potential for non-passenger use of our innovative Flex trains and over coming months we will be exploring further opportunities to support the successful UK railfreight sector."

Karl Watts, CEO of Rail Operations Group, said: "The time is right for a modal shift from road to rail for logistics and express parcels services. ROG are leading the industry in delivering this shift and the Flex trains are the perfect rail-borne solution to make this happen. There is huge opportunity to re-establish a comprehensive network of express parcels trains and help reduce the number of commercial vehicles on UK roads which will, in turn, help to drive improvements in the UK economy.”

Maggie Simpson, Director General of the Rail Freight Group (RFG), said: "RFG welcomes ROG’s move into the express parcels market, this is traffic that is highly suited to the rail network. I am also very pleased to see Porterbrook’s renewed appetite for railfreight investment. The creation of dedicated Flex trains for light logistics work is a significant vote of confidence in our sector." 

The new Flex trains are expected to be delivered to ROG early next year.

Porterbrook has a rolling stock fleet of around 5,000 vehicles on lease or on order, which includes 4,500 passenger vehicles.