Cutting-edge hybrid locomotive set to run on UK rail freight networks

GB Railfreight press release 29/04/2022

GB Railfreight (GBRf), one of the UK’s largest national rail freight operators and mover of goods, today unveiled its new hybrid Class 99 locomotive, marking a major development in the decarbonisation of UK supply chains and consumer and business purchases.

Designed and built in collaboration with Stadler and Beacon Rail, the new hybrid locomotive – the first Heavy Freight Locomotive capable of hauling mainline speeds and tonnages on UK rail networks – will run from 2025 and are intended to replace existing diesel-only powered Class 66 locomotives.

Carrying millions of consumer and business goods from ports and terminals, such as Felixstowe, to logistics hubs, the new trains will operate along electrified and non-electrified tracks across the UK. The Class 99s are expected to cut emissions by c.50% per journey and become the most sustainable mode of moving goods for the UK public and businesses. It is anticipated that the new hybrid model will reduce GBRf’s carbon footprint by 428 tonnes per working day across intermodal services operating along partially electrified lines.

The UK government’s electrification rollout, which is taking place over the next decade, will enable the Class 99 to run on electricity across all UK routes and reduce emissions by 585,000 tonnes of carbon per year. 

Rail freight already moves the economy around the UK and this investment will enable GB Railfreight and the wider industry to do it even more sustainably. Each year GB Railfreight transports containers of consumer goods, from wine, food to garden furniture. The major efficiency of these trains will enable consumers and businesses to cut their own footprints and make better purchasing decisions.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said: 

“Rail freight is not just the backbone of the UK’s economy; it is now leading the push to decarbonise supply chains. Our new and cutting-edge locomotives will immediately make a huge impact on reducing CO2 emissions, improve choice for businesses and consumers, and cut their carbon footprints when purchasing goods. If scaled, with the help of the UK government to electrify more routes, the Class 99 locomotive can play an even greater role in helping supply chains and business operations become significantly more climate friendly.”

Industry Minister, Lee Rowley said:

“Making our rail networks more sustainable is hugely important to ensuring our supply chains can continue to be the cornerstone of the UK’s economic growth.

“The launch of the Class 99, the first hybrid locomotive to run on UK rail networks, is a big moment for the British rail and freight industry. By helping GB Railfreight to cut emissions by half per journey, it will help to usher in a new age of low carbon goods transport in the UK.”

Inigo Parra, CEO of Stadler Valencia said:

“Stadler has extensive experience in the UK locomotive market.  Over recent years we have introduced with Beacon the Class 68 diesel-electric locomotive and the Class 88 bi-mode locomotive.  We are very proud to go one-step further with the development of the Class 99, a versatile, high-performance locomotive that will provide environmentally-friendly and cost-effective rail transport services.” 

Beacon CEO, Adam Cunliffe, said:

“Beacon is proud to introduce the Class 99 to the market; this is the result of a collaborative approach with our long-standing customer GB Railfreight and manufacturer Stadler.  The Class 99 order underlines Beacon’s drive to support the UK’s journey towards a greener and more efficient rail network.  We look forward to supporting the delivery programme for these locomotives ahead of introduction to service in 2025, providing further momentum to facilitate modal shift from road to rail.”

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