GB Railfreight locomotives to be maintained by DB Cargo UK

Two of Britain’s biggest freight operators have struck a deal that will see all ten of the Class 60 diesel locomotives operated by GB Railfreight come back home to their historic operator, DB Cargo UK. This is for ongoing maintenance out of the Toton depot in the English East Midlands. The three year contact also covers technical in-field support.

The agreement will see DB Cargo UK work closely with GBRf’s engineering team to drive locomotive performance and provide professional engineering support. “We are delighted to be working in partnership with our colleagues at GB Railfreight”, said Hans-Georg Werner, CEO 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.”

Important to work together

From the GB Railfreight side of the deal, managing director John Smith was equally pleased to have signed up a trusted partner with plenty of experience in looking after the locomotive class.

Despite appearances, this train actually does end, even if the engineers claim the Class 60 has infinite drawing power (image: Ken Short)

Many of the engineering team assigned to the contract have spent the bulk of their careers on the machines, and that familiarity will be of value GBRf and to Smith. “At this time of economic uncertainty, it is important for the rail freight sector to work together to deliver investment to support its growth”, he said.

Ordered before privatisation

The Class 60 first entered service in 1989, having been ordered by the former British Railway Board, and built by Brush Engineering at their facility in Loughborough, not far from their new maintenance base.

At the time of privatisation, EWS acquired the entire 100-strong fleet, which subsequently passed to successor business DB Cargo UK. The compliment of ten units operated by GBRf had passed to another operator in the interim period.

Ten thousand year service

“We have Toton for our diesel electric motive power fleet”, said Raj Basi, national maintenance manager for DB Cargo UK, speaking from the depot on the edge of Nottingham. “We carry out maintenance for all the major UK freight operators”, he says, while proudly noting that he and his team have an accumulated ten thousand years of experience.

That’s not actually a Class 60 to my left, says Raj Bazi, DB Cargo UK national maintenance manager (DB Cargo UK)

“Safety underpins everything we do, says Basi, before turning to the details of contracted maintenance. “We look at the reliability of the asset, through predictive tests and critical analysis. Once we have those two, we can look at the availability of the fleet, which serves our customers’ needs.”

In demand again

Although now entering their fourth decade in service, the marque is in a late-life renaissance. At one time down to fifteen operational units, the Class 60 is in demand again, and overhaul has made the units more reliable and more environmentally friendly.

Busy day at Toton traction maintenance depot (DB Cargo UK)

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

Working together

In a joint statement, the operators said their collaboration 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.

Operationally, GBRf says the Class 60 fleet will allow them to run heavier and longer trains, with primary duties for the locomotives to be hauling biomass to power stations.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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