Freight News, Rail

Updated: A new name in Channel Tunnel rail freight

[ November 4, 2014   //   ]

Logistics specialist John G Russell and Eurotunnel’s GB Railfreight and Europorte France subsidiaries are cooperating on a new container service between Lille and Barking via the Tunnel and the high speed line. The three partners ran their first service on 3 November between Lille’s Dourges terminal to Russell’s Barking site in East London, operated by two ‘Class 92’ electric locomotives purchased by GBRf from Europorte earlier this year.

The train left Dourges at 17.34, arriving at Calais Frethun at 19.32, leaving from there at 23.20 and arriving at Barking International Rail Freight Terminal on 4 November at 00.17 local time. The return service departs Barking at 04.15, arriving back in Dourges at 11am.

GBRf will act as a ‘hook-and haul’ traction supplier between Frethun and Barking five times per week. Services are operated on behalf of Glasgow-based John G Russell customers, 2XL and Novatrans for three years and will carry products for Procter & Gamble and other manufacturers.
GBRf managing dierctor, John Smith, said: “Following the procurement of 16 Class 92s back in February, it’s been the company’s aim to move into the international market, supporting trade links between the UK and the European mainland. This contract is a sign that we are heading in the right direction. In addition, the utilisation of class 92s on the HS1 line further supports our commitment to sustainable freight transport.”
John G Russell director Kenneth Russell, said: “This is the very first short distance train to cross the Channel and I’m delighted with the way it’s gone. I’d like to thank all the parties involved, especially Europorte, and particularly our customers, who saw the benefits and patiently waited for them to be a reality.”

Later, he told FBJ that while the service was carrying standard 45′ containers, the plan was to also offer service for tank containers and, possibly, mega-combi units, taking advantage of the High Speed 1 route’s large loading gauge. The HS1 route has to be used because the wider Continental-gauge wagons used would foul the platforms at stations on the ‘classic’ route from Folkestone to London, he explained.

The partners had pressed Eurotunnel and the rail infrastructure operators for suitable paths five days a week, in order to ensure full utilisation of the equipment. The freight trains have to operate between the last passenger services of the evening and before the first departures in the morning. They also have to fit in with overnight engineering possessions on High Speed 1, although most of these are at weekends.

Connecting services – with units lifted between trains – are available at Barking on Russell Group’s domestic rail services to Daventry and Glasgow, while on the otherside of the Channel, it is possible to reach a wide range of destinations on the Novatrans network. “We’re also looking at links to Spain, Italy, Germany and Eastern Europe with other operators,” added John Russell.

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