Direct Rail Services brought under Nuclear Transport Solutions

DRS nuclear flask collection (DRS)

Direct Rail Services, the UK freight operator, has today come under the stable of Nuclear Transport Solutions. DRS, originally formed to provide specialist transport of fuel flasks for the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, is being reassigned as a business unit of Nuclear Transport Solutions, the NDA’s arm for all rail and sea logistics.

Headquartered in Carlisle in the northwest of England, Direct Rail Services has grown from a specialist into a full-service freight operator. Now, administratively, DRS is going back to its roots as part of Nuclear Transport Solutions, the new business unit within the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the body responsible for Britain’s retired reactors and waste storage facilities. The change became official on 19 April.

From specialists to supermarket solutions

The new specialist nuclear transport organisation has officially been launched. Nuclear Transport Solutions is part of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) group. It specialises in the operational, commercial, engineering, legal, and regulatory expertise that underpin nuclear transport and logistics operations. Direct Rail Services represents the rail operations division. The creation of NTS follows the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority decision to create a single nuclear transport division to support its clean up of the UK’s earliest nuclear sites. The sites range from the original UK research reactor at Dounreay in the far north of Scotland, to installations in west Wales and the southwest of England. The authority also carries out contract work for overseas operators.

DRS provides haulage for supermarket intermodal trains (Scotrail)

NTS operates Direct Rail Services (DRS) and Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd (PNTL). Its maritime section operates three ships, all supported by DRS. According to the launch statement, NTS will continue to deliver rail and shipping services for customers, building on decades of experience of providing safe, secure and reliable transport solutions in the UK and internationally. “We have created NTS to become the leading global provider of safe, secure and reliable nuclear transport solutions”, said Seth Kybird, the chief executive of NTS. “We’re proud of our high-security shipping capabilities to support global security goals, providing low-carbon rail freight solutions that take more lorries off our roads.”

Direct expertise and advanced fleet

Operationally Direct Rail Services was formed to convey nuclear flasks from sites around the UK, the company has developed several more conventional traffic flows, including supermarket intermodal work. Chris Connelly, who changes his designation from Head of DRS to NTS deputy CEO and rail director, said NTS brings together a wide variety of knowledge, skills and talent into one organisation. “It’s a fantastic opportunity and being part of it will make DRS stronger, more competitive and able to offer a broader range of services to our customers.”

Chris Connelly becomes NTS deputy CEO and rail director (image: DRS)

DRS remains the operator of their fleet of over one hundred locomotives, including a recently acquired squadron of advanced bi-mode ‘class 88’ units. Since 1995, over 2000 nuclear flasks have been transported a cumulative five million miles (eight million kilometres) to countries all over the world.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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