Thursday, October 22, 2020

Rail Freight Group Extends European Cooperation by Two Years

Virus Slowed, but Didn't Prevent, Negotiations
Shipping News Feature

UK – BELGIUM – EUROPE – GB Railfreight (GBRf) has announced an extension to its European freight cooperation in partnership with Lineas, the largest private rail freight operator in Europe, which has already been in operation for almost four years.

The existing traffic flow from Antwerp through to Irvine will continue for what is technically an additional two years although the new cessation date for this ‘hook and haul’ operation is in fact December 2021, Covid-19 having caused delays to the re-negotiations. 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 1,200 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 and 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 are being managed by Julie Garn. This follows the pattern of other European Traffic that GBRf have handled 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.”

Lineas, headquartered in Brussels and with a presence in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain, operates 250 locomotives and 7,000 rail wagons with a staff of over 2,000 also is committed to the modal shift. Geraldine Leyman, Senior Key Account Manager 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.”