Freightliner moves extra long freight trains at Southampton and London

Recently completed infrastructure works at Southampton have enabled Freightliner to run new, 775 metre-long intermodal trains for their client DP World. The rail freight operator is also hauling 775m trains from a sister facility at London Gateway. Daily departures serve Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.

According to the maritime operators DP World, their UK port and logistics customers are the first to take advantage of Freightliner’s new 775m long intermodal trains. The deep-water ports at Southampton and London Gateway have become the first in the country capable of handling the longer trains.

Completed infrastructure works enables longest trains

Network Rail recently completed infrastructure works on the approaches to Southampton, which eliminated several constraints to operations, and made possible the formation of longer trains. The new 775-metre consists are around 250 metres longer than a typical freight train, according to DP World. They say they can haul up to 14 additional containers on each service, generating significant cost and environmental benefits for customers transporting goods to and from the ports.

DP World at Southampton and London Gateway are already well connected by rail. The new Freightliner 775m trains will serve Birmingham in the Midlands and Manchester and Leeds in the North (DP World)

The emphasis on rail across both ports takes 300,000 trucks off UK roads each year, says DP World. They expect the number to continue to grow. Southampton continues to grow in importance as a post-Brexit trading port. London Gateway remains a crucial part of the logistics chain for the capital and the South East. “Our aim is to be a partner in our customers’ business success, providing fast, reliable and flexible links to international supply chains and markets”, say DP World.

High degree of rail interconnectivity at Southampton and London

The modern purpose built facilities at London Gateway were built with longer trains in mind. The formations – which are the length of more than seven football pitches – depart the freight rail terminals at Southampton and London Gateway every working day of the week to Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds.

Already around thirty per cent of intermodal traffic leaves Southampton by rail (DP World / Freightliner)

A higher than average proportion of goods already leave the two ports by rail, explained Ernst Schulze, the UK chief executive of DP World. “Both ports already have a high degree of rail interconnectivity, with Southampton having the highest proportion of containers moved by train in the UK at more than 30 per cent”, he said. Schulze added that London Gateway was aiming to achieve similar levels. “I am delighted that our customers at both Southampton and London Gateway will be the first in the country to benefit from the increased productivity and efficiency of these new 775 metre trains.”

Freeport status awards

“We very much welcome the capability to run 775 metre services from DP World’s deep-water ports at Southampton and London Gateway,” said Eddie Aston, chief executive officer for Freightliner and parent company Genesee and Wyoming’s UK/Europe Region. “Running container train services at 775 metres not only improves the productivity and efficiency of rail freight but has significant environmental gains. The three daily roundtrip 775 metre intermodal trains that Freightliner is currently running from the Port of Southampton are collectively saving over four million road miles and 9,500 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.”

Both partners stress that rail freight is contributing to the UK government’s commitment to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Additionally the commercial advantages have been boosted by the decision earlier this year by the Government in London to award freeport status to DP World Southampton (as part of Solent Freeport) and DP World London Gateway (as part of Thames Freeport).

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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