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.”

GB Railfreight celebrates 20 years of operations out of Felixstowe

GB Railfreight Press release – 28/04/2022

Today GB Railfreight (GBRf) celebrates its longstanding partnership with the Port of Felixstowe, marking 20 years since GBRf and the port first collaborated on an inaugural Intermodal service to transport goods across the UK for MSC.

The growth in the partnership and the port itself has been exponential over the past 20 years. Since the first service, GBRf has gone on to operate 50 daily services nationwide, of which 14 are for MSC. The port has expanded from 28 to 76 daily trains over the 20 years, with 30 of these belonging to GBRf, resulting in 166 GBRf trains running to and from Felixstowe each week.

With the launch of three new GBRf services out of Felixstowe over the last 12 months, the partnership between GB Railfreight and the Port of Felixstowe has grown year on year.

With the port’s expansion, GBRf serves more customers than ever before, transporting 245,240 containers in and out of the port in 2021, and 62,441 containers in the first quarter of 2022 alone – utilising Felixstowe’s reputation as the largest deep sea port in order to deliver better and more efficient services for its customers. Additionally, GB Railfreight has been servicing seven of the inland terminals since 2002, further bolstering the port’s ability to fortify the UK’s supply chains and help grow the economy.

In the years ahead Felixstowe is expected to expand further, creating 90 daily rail freight services from the port. GBRf has already launched three new services – iPort, Tinsley and Birch Coppice – in the past 12 months. GBRf currently employs c.100 members of staff at the port, from which they run a seven-day-a-week service and intend to increase the number of staff and services to meet customer demand.

The effectiveness of the relationship has been particularly on show over the past two years. GBRf is proud of the part it played in working with the Port of Felixstowe to keep the UK’s economy moving during the pandemic and supplying vital PPE at the height of the first lockdown in 2020. More recently, from the HGV driver shortages, Brexit impacts and the pressure of Christmas supply chains, the collaboration ensured goods kept on flowing to consumers and businesses without any significant disruption.

John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, said: “Without our 20-year partnership we would not have been able to support the UK economy in the way that we did. Felixstowe has been crucial to the success of GBRf and the wider rail freight sector, enabling us to deliver more services, in a more efficient way, to customers. In the next 20 years our partnership will be multi-faceted, as we work together to make the UK’s supply chains even more resilient, efficient, and importantly, sustainable too”.

Clemence Cheng, CEO, Port of Felixstowe, said: “GB Railfreight are a key partner helping to ensure that we are able to offer shippers a range of frequent, efficient and sustainable distribution options from the Port of Felixstowe. We have worked closely with them as their operation has grown over the last 20 years and look forward to continuing the relationship long into the future.”

Railcam’s support and coverage of #GBRf2021 – This Time It’s Personal Charity Railtour

©GB Railfreight

The mammoth 4-day GB Railfreight charity railtour returns for 2021, and This Time It’s Personal!

A selection of traction will be used over the 4 days, including Class 59, Class 60, Class 69, Class 73/9, Class 86, Class 91 and more….. This is a true enthusiasts dream charter and all in support of

Starting at London Victoria on Thursday 2nd September, the tour takes in destinations such as Harwich International, Southampton Central, the WCML, West Highland Line to Oban, the ECML and finishing up at London Paddington on Sunday 5th September.

Keep an eye out for our admin team on board, plus your chance to win one of two Railcam goodie bags (amongst some superb prizes) as part of the onboard raffle…..

Schedules and Railcam camera pass times are as follows…….


1Z21 London Victoria (09:45) to London Gateway Gbrf (12:09)

Class 66 x 1

🎥 Barking (11:19)

Track it –

1Z22 London Gateway Gbrf (12:29) to Harwich International (15:37)

Class 73/9 x 2 (London Gateway to Temple Mills Loop)

Class 66 x 1 (Temple Mills Loop to Harwich International)

Track it –

1Z23 Harwich International (15:47) to Harwich International (16:41)

Class 73/9 x 2 (Harwich International to Parkeston Gbrf)

Class 66 x 1 (Parkeston Gbrf to Harwich International)

Track it –

1Z24 Harwich International (16:54) to London Euston (22:38)

Class 73/9 x 2 (Harwich International to Ely)

Class 66 x 1 (Ely to Wembley Area)

Class 73/9 x 2 (Wembley Area to London Euston)

🎥 Camden Junction (21:47)

Track it –


1Z25 London Euston (07:26) to Marchwood MOD Gbrf (12:07)

Class 73/1 x 2 – (London Euston to Wembley Area)

🎥 Camden Junction (07:31)

Class 59 x 1 – (Wembley Area to Eastleigh Marchwood)

Track it –

Loco TBC – Shunts within Eastleigh Marchwood

1Zxx Marchwood MOD Gbrf (15:22) to Acton Lane Reception Sidings GB Railfreight (19:17)

Class 59 x 1 (Marchwood MOD Gbrf to Eastleigh East Yard)

Class 73/1 x 2 (Eastleigh East Yard to Kensington Olympia)

Track it –

FRIDAY 3rd SEPTEMBER (Overnight)

1Zxx Marchwood MOD Gbrf (15:22) to Acton Lane Reception Sidings GB Railfreight (19:17)

Class 73/1 x 2 (Kensington Olympia to Acton Mainline Reception)

Track it –

1Zxx Acton Lane Reception Sidings GB Railfreight (19:45) to Mossend Up Yard (05:08)

Class 86 x 1 (Action Mainline Reception GB Railfreight to Crewe)

🎥 Watford Junction (20:05)

Class 92 x 1 (Crewe to Mossend Up Yard)

🎥 Crewe 2 & 5 (00:10)

🎥 Crewe 4 (00:12)

🎥 Leyland (00:47)

🎥 Farington Junction (00:49)

🎥 Preston (01:02)

🎥 Bolton Le Sands (01:12)

🎥 Beattock (03:55)

🎥 Thankerton (04:30)

Track it –

1Zxx Mossend Up Yard (05:45) to Oban (10:35)

Class 37 x 2 (courtesy of Direct Rail Services)

Track it –


1Z30 Mossend Up Yard (05:45) to Oban (10:35)

Class 37 x 2 (courtesy of Direct Rail Services)

Track it –

1Z31 Oban (12:52) to Carlisle (23:15)

Class 37 x 2 (courtesy of Direct Rail Services) (Oban to Mossend Up Yard)

Class 91 x 1 (Mossend Up Yard to Newcastle)

🎥 Cramlington (20:35)

Class 60 x 1 (Newcastle to Carlisle)

Track it –


1Zxx Carlisle (10:15) to Preston (11:35)

Class 66 x 1 –

🎥 Preston (11:30)

Track it –

1Zxx Preston (12:25) to Bescot Up And Down Goods (15:30)

Class 50 x 3 (Preston to Bescot Up And Down Goods)

🎥 Farington Junction (12:27)

🎥 Leyland (12:29)

🎥 Crewe 4 (13:10)

🎥 Crewe 2 & 5 (13:11)

🎥 Bushbury Junction (13:57)

Class 66 x 1 (Bescot Up And Down Goods to Bescot Up And Down Goods)

Track it –

1Zxx Bescot Up And Down Goods(16:00) to London Paddington (19:21)

Class 69 x 1

Track it –

5 minute read – Ely to Peterborough rail line reopens following incident at Cambridgeshire level crossing

©Network Rail

The Ely to Peterborough rail line reopened this morning (Tuesday 24 August) following completion of works to repair damage caused by a collision between a freight train and a tractor last week.

The collision caused extensive damage after the freight train derailed. Since the incident, Network Rail’s engineers have been working non-stop to complete over a mile of track renewal, repairs to the signalling equipment and level crossing infrastructure. 

Network Rail’s infrastructure director for Anglia, Simon Milburn, said: “We’ve worked around the clock on extensive repairs in order to safely reopen the line as quickly as possible. I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we completed these works and we are sorry for the disruption it has caused.”

Just after 9am on Thursday 19 August, a freight train collided with a tractor at Kisbeys user worked level crossing in March, Cambridgeshire between March and Whittlesea stations. Network Rail is assisting the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) with their investigation to fully understand the circumstance of the incident.

The crash caused three freight wagons to derail and has caused significant damage to the track, signalling equipment and the level crossing. The train driver and the tractor driver sustained minor injuries.

5 minute read – UPDATE: Repair works underway following Cambridgeshire level crossing incident

©Network Rail

Repair works are underway on the line between Ely and Peterborough following a collision between a freight train and a tractor yesterday morning (19 August).

As of Friday (20 August) the freight train and wagons had been removed and Network Rail’s engineers had completed half a mile of track repairs, with the remaining half a mile planned in over the weekend. Repairs are also being carried out to the signalling equipment and level crossing infrastructure.

The work is expected to be completed early next week. The line will remain closed on Monday and a further update will be provided regarding its reopening. We aim to reopen the line as early as possible next week.

Network Rail’s infrastructure director for Anglia, Simon Milburn, said:

“We’ve been working around the clock to carry out repairs as quickly as possible and have completed half of the track repairs so far with further works planned this weekend. We aim to reopen the line as soon as we can next week but it will remain closed on Monday. I’d like to thank passengers for their continued patience while we complete this work.

“Passengers travelling between Ely and Peterborough are advised to check with their train operator or National Rail Enquiries for the latest information.”

Just after 9am a freight train collided with a tractor at Kisbeys user worked level crossing in March, Cambridgeshire between March and Whittlesea stations. Network Rail is assisting the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) with their investigation to fully understand the circumstance of the incident.

The crash caused three freight wagons to derail and has caused significant damage to the track, signalling equipment and the level crossing. The train driver and the tractor driver sustained minor injuries.

GB Railfreight Announce Lineas Partnership Extension

GB Railfreight (GBRf) are very pleased to announce an extension to their European freight operation in partnership with LINEAS, the largest private rail freight operator in Europe.

The existing traffic flow from Antwerp through to Irvine will continue for an additional two years. This announcement marks the extension of the existing contract which will now run until the end of December 2021, marking a 5-year relationship with LINEAS for this ‘hook and haul’ flow. The service has so far averaged around 30 trains a year and will continue to run approximately between two and three times per month.

The trains, which arrive in Calais from the LINEAS Rail operation, will consist of roughly 20 ICA Tank Rail Wagons and will carry 1200 tonnes of product per train. It will be transporting kaolin clay for the process of whitening paper which is produced at the UPM Caledonian Papermill in South Western Scotland.

GBRf will normally collect the product on a Tuesday night, run through the channel tunnel with Electric Traction. A Class 66 Loco then hauls through to UPM Irvine to arrive at around 7pm on the Wednesday night. Following unloading, GBRf return the empty set of wagons back to the Channel Tunnel by Friday night for a path back to Calais.

GBRf are currently operating intermodal services to and from the three largest ports in the UK. The Antwerp to Irvine operation builds on the company’s existing Intermodal services which is currently being managed by Julie Garn. This follows other European Traffic flows that GBRf have operated in the past.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“I am delighted to announce that we are continuing our partnership with Lineas. Our strong relationship goes back many years and we are pleased to continue it until December 2021. This service will be the longest term of operation for running services through the Channel Tunnel for GBRf, something we are extremely proud of.

“In addition, the shift to rail freight is a vital part of decarbonising our transport system. Our partnership with LINEAS shows our commitment to doing our part to reach the ambitious target of net zero emissions by 2050 and we hope to build on this going forward.”

Geraldine Leyman, Senior Key Account Manager at LINEAS added:

“We are extremely pleased to have extended this contract. Our relationship with GB Railfreight is one we are extremely proud of and is the greatest example of the importance of cross-border cooperation.

“We couldn’t be happier with the service GBRf provide on the UK side and this contract extension is proof of that. We look forward to continuing this successful partnership in the years ahead.”

GB Railfreight agrees deal for five new Class 66 locos

GBRf is pleased to announce an agreement to bring an additional five Class 66 locomotives from Germany in cooperation with Beacon Rail Leasing.

The first two, classified as 29004/29005 have been delivered to EMD Doncaster ready for conversion to GBRf’s specification and UK railway standards. The remaining three locomotives will be delivered throughout 2021.

The first two locomotives are low-geared heavy haul 60mph locos which will benefit GBRf’s heavy-haul capability, while the remaining three are 75mph locomotives. 

The locos will be delivered into GBRf service commencing early April 2021 with the programme of conversions being undertaken by EMD at their Doncaster and Longport facilities, this will include the fitting of air conditioning, sound proofing, cab improvements, and new cab double glazing. In addition, the locos will be fitted with the most up to date GSMR and TPWS safety systems and be painted in GBRf livery. Once in service they will become GBRf 66 793-797 locos.

Today’s announcement reinforces GB Railfreight’s status as one of the fastest growing and most exciting transport companies in the UK. The locos will provide additional capacity to build on GBRf’s long track record of successful delivery for its customers

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“Today’s announcement is another important milestone for GB Railfreight’s continued expansion as a company. We are delighted to be bringing these five locomotives to the UK and adding them to GB Railfreight’s Class 66 fleet.

“This agreement also shows that despite the economic uncertainty our country faces, GBRf leads the way with continued investment to put the UK economy back on track. We look to the future with optimism.”

Adam Cunliffe, CEO of Beacon Rail, said:

“Beacon Rail is delighted to be supporting GB Railfreight with these latest additions and further expanding the long-term relationship between our two companies. The class 66 is a proven performer, being the backbone for the movement of essential goods over recent months.  Beacon is committed to further growth of the UK rail freight market through the introduction of these additional locomotives.”

GB Railfreight Announces Contract Renewal with Tarmac

GB Railfreight (GBRf) is delighted to announce Tarmac has renewed its contract for five years from January 2020 to 31 December 2025, for the transportation of aggregate materials. The contract will include the supply of hopper and box wagons from GBRf

This is an extension to the current contract which covers the northern package of Tarmac’s rail operations, encompassing services mainly from Arcow and Swinden railheads in North Yorkshire to a variety of destinations including Leeds, Hull and two sites in Manchester.

The new contract builds on the successful relationship that has been established since GBRf started services in the northern package over four years ago in January 2016.

Managing Director of GBRf John Smith said:

“We are absolutely delighted to have signed a contract extension with Tarmac. Our relationship goes back many years and we have built on the strong partnership forged in 2016.

“During the ongoing pandemic, we are doing our bit to keep the economy moving and our partnership with Tarmac is testament to that. We look forward to working with Tarmac in the months and years to come to spur the recovery of the construction sector.”

Chris Swan, Head of Rail at Tarmac, said:

“Effective use of the rail freight network is key in supporting the UK’s transition to a net-zero society and supporting a green recovery as we emerge from the Covid-19 crisis. Collaborative working has a vital role to play in this and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with GB Railfreight as the industry focuses on continued modal shift, as well as driving forward efficiencies and innovation.”

GB Railfreight announce deal with DB Cargo for Class 60 maintenance

GB Railfreight (GBRf) has announced a new three-year deal with fellow rail freight company DB Cargo UK to undertake the maintenance of ten Class 60 locomotives as well as providing technical in-field support.

The agreement will see GBRf’s engineering team work closely with DB Cargo UK to drive locomotive performance and provide professional engineering support.

The focus of the contract will be undertaking regular maintenance in line with contracted KPIs whilst driving reliability improvements.

The Class 60 locomotives which have entered service will allow heavier and longer trains to run. This brings environmental benefits as longer trains are more efficient.  The main duties of the locomotives will be hauling biomass to power stations.

Lynemouth – Tyne Dock credit Ken Short

This announcement demonstrates a willingness of the rail freight sector to continue investing and working together through this difficult time in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“I am thrilled to be unveiling this new partnership with DB Cargo UK. At this time of economic uncertainty, it is important for the rail freight sector to work together to deliver investment to support its growth.

Most importantly, the economic recovery needs to be green and sustainable and by maintaining these locos we will ensure fewer carbon emissions in the long run. I am pleased that rail freight is playing its part in the economic recovery driven by environmentally sustainable investment.”

Hans-Georg Werner, CEO at DB Cargo UK, said:

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with our colleagues at GB Railfreight providing high quality maintenance services for their Class 60 locomotives. At DB Cargo UK we pride ourselves on the quality of our engineering, with our key focus being on cost-effective locomotive availability and reliability.”

GB Railfreight unveils new sidings at Peterborough

GB Railfreight (GBRf) is set to start operations at its new intermodal sidings at Peterborough. The investment provides GBRf with much needed track capacity – which will be doubled – in order to facilitate the business’ growing intermodal sector.

This is the first of four phases of works to have been completed on this site. GBRf are looking to develop this site further by completing alterations to existing sidings and install additional infrastructure to provide improved access to the East Coast Main Line, allowing GBRf to further increase the capacity of the site.

Other works planned at this location in the near future include a purpose-built wagon maintenance facility in order to support high levels of asset utilisation. The move will provide GB Railfreight with an improved and more efficient wagon maintenance capability along with improved facilities for their maintainers to operate from. This follows the announcement of a new multi million contract for the lease of an additional 52 Ecofret2® Intermodal wagons from VTG, Rail UK Ltd, the UK’s largest private wagon hire company.

To meet increasing demand for rail freight, GBRf are also expanding operations by investing in new offices and training facilities. GBRf recently broke ground for their new office in Peterborough, with the work involving the demolition of existing temporary office buildings and construction of a new building to house a control room, three classrooms, a board room and staff welfare facilities. The training school will support GBRf’s state-of-the-art class 66 simulators, which were unveiled in 2019.

The new intermodal sidings at Peterborough, were completed by MLP Railway Maintenance Ltd which enabled GBRf to finish them ahead of schedule and also within budget. This announcement demonstrates the company’s commitment to investing in the rail freight sector and the UK economy as a whole at this time of uncertainty in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said:

“I am absolutely delighted to be able to unveil the new intermodal sidings at Peterborough. The growth in Intermodal is demonstrative of GBRf’s commitment to leading the way in what is one of the biggest changes in the freight industry’s history, offering flexible and innovative door-to-door solutions that meet our customer’s needs.

“In 2019 GBRf delivered not only growth but also consumer choice in the market with a further four Intermodal services from major deep-sea UK ports, bringing the total to 17 Intermodal services. Despite the current disruption due to COVID-19 we are committed to delivering investment to support the growth of the rail freight sector, ensuring that rail freight can play its part in the economic recovery  driven by environmentally sustainable investment.”