Porterbrook to develop dedicated freight strategy

Ribblehead viaduct with Network Rail route proving train and snowplough crossing Feb 11 2021 - Credit Tom Beresford

Porterbrook, the rolling stock owner and asset management company, is planning its first dedicated freight strategy. The company, which collaborates with a wide family of passenger and freight operators in the UK, has taken on a senior professional to develop a fresh policy for freight engagement. The company announcement comes as the rail freight industry has just produced its own report on the value of rail freight to the national economy.

Twenty-five-year-old Porterbrook has backed up its existing three billion GBP (3.3 billion euros) rolling stock investment programme with a dedicated freight strategy. The company manages over 2,500 new passenger and freight vehicles in operation with many operators in the UK. This year they plan to invest a further one billion GPB (1.1 Billion euros) to deliver new and refurbished vehicles for passengers and freight customers. The strategy is expected to tie into the new report, The Value of Rail Freight, just published by the industry at large.

Recent GBRf deal

Porterbrook is better known among UK business circles as a passenger rolling stock leasing company, but the business has a long track record of delivery for the freight industry. They recently brokered the delivery of a new fleet of over 100 intermodal wagons for GB Railfreight (GBRf). It is from that operator that Porterbrook has signed Mark Wyborn as its new head of freight commercial. It will be his responsibility to deliver Porterbrook’s first dedicated freight strategy.

Mark Wyborn is the new face of freight at Porterbrook.

“Financing new trains is not the end-game”, said the company statement. “Our asset stewardship role includes management of assets to ensure performance, safety and long-term suitability over their full economic life.” Wyborn will be responsible for developing Porterbrook’s first dedicated freight strategy. He has also been charged with developing partnerships with existing freight customers, building on his background in the sector and Network Rail, the UK infrastructure manager.

Ambitious growth plans

Stefan Rose, Porterbrook’s designated chief investment officer, said the company was eager to confirm its commitment to rail freight. “We are looking to invest one billion pounds in Britain’s railway over the coming years”, he said. He added they will be looking to partner with freight operators to do what he called “share in Porterbrook’s ambitious growth plans.”

The recent deal with GBRf, which will add 100 intermodal sets to that company’s fleet, was put forward as evidence of that ambition. Wyborn said this was a very exciting time for both rail freight and the leasing industry. “Porterbrook will support the ambitious growth plans of freight operating companies by financing new and improved assets, tailored to market needs”, he said. “These will allow our rail freight customers to play a greater part in the Green Recovery.”

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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