GB Railfreight connects Felixstowe with Yorkshire

GBRf Class 66 at Felixstowe

Answering further demand for rail-served freight operations, a new daily rail service has been introduced, connecting the UK’s busiest container port, Felixstowe, with the heavily populated conurbation of West Yorkshire. The rail operation – a partnership between GB Railfreight and logistics specialists Maritime – represents the 13th service operated by GB Railfreight out of Felixstowe, and the port’s 12th daily rail connection to destinations in the county of Yorkshire.

GB Railfreight’s new intermodal partnership with Maritime Transport, will see a flexible service running from the Port of Felixstowe to Maritime Transport’s own logistics hub at Wakefield Europort. GBRf say this new service is evidence of their continued expansion into the intermodal market. While Maritime is best known for it’s extensive road delivery operations, this new service has discreetly taken the rail partnership with GBRf up to seven intermodal flows. The new Felixstowe to Wakefield service adds a Monday to Friday operation to that collaboration.

More services to more destinations

Hutchison Ports, the operators of Felixstowe, have a commitment to rail traffic. “Expanding the number of rail services available to importers and exporters from the port is one of our key objectives”, said Chris Lewis, chief executive officer at the port. Already he claimed that around fifty per cent of the container traffic between Felixstowe and the North of England moved by rail. “Increasing the number of services is good for the port, good for our customers and good for the environment”, he said. “With three dedicated rail terminals at the port we offer more rail services to more inland destinations with greater frequency than any other UK port.”

Current destinations served by rail from the Port of Felixstowe are: Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Teesport, Birmingham, Birch Coppice, Doncaster, East Midlands Gateway, Hams Hall, Wakefield, Ditton (Widnes), Rotherham, iPort Rossington and Cardiff (Hutchison Ports image).

GB Railfreight managing director John Smith, expressed his usual enthusiasm for the new service, and the continued demonstration of faith in rail and a long-standing partnership with Felixstowe. “Our growth in intermodal shows GBRf’s dedication to innovation, offering flexible door-to-door solutions that meet our customer’s needs, as well as a consistently reliable service.” To that end, expansion of rail infrastructure has been underway for some time, under the management of Network Rail, the UK agency.

Sustainable and robust solutions

Flexibility is a key factor in this new service. Containers are not quite as standard as they once were, meaning rail has had to keep up with subtle changes to the load characteristics required. This new train will initially comprise of a mix of wagon types. Technically, the rake deployed will include two Eco Triples, two Q8s and eleven IKA Twins. This combination allows for enhanced flexibility, maximising the number of boxes that can be carried to better satisfy consumer demand and make more effective use of overall capacity. In other words, whatever comes off the quayside can be hauled away, and the train has the best chance of leaving fully laden.

Felixstowe Port. Photo: Network Rail
More trains than ships. Felixstowe still moves more cargo by road, but is working to increase capacity and usage of its rail facilities (Network Rail image)

That flexibility is important for Maritime Transport, the logistics partner in the deal. John Bailey, their managing director for intermodal and terminals, is well aware that flexibility represents reliability too. “Following what has been a year of new challenges for those throughout the industry, it has been incredibly important for us as business to continue to build not just sustainable but robust solutions to ensure the stability of the supply chain”, he said. “This new service is testament to this and we are very pleased to be working with GB Railfreight to deliver essential intermodal services to our customers.”

Felixstowe was among eight locations recently designated freeports by the UK government.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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