VTG awards Yellow Rail long-term maintenance deal

The UK arm of leasing company VTG Rail has awarded a new long-term contract to Yellow Rail. The maintenance company will safeguard VTG’s 620 strong fleet of hopper and box wagons from the Torr Works at Shepton Mallet in Somerset (formally known as Merehead Quarry) and the nearby Whatley maintenance facilities. The fleet is leased to Mendip Rail (MRL).

Yellow Rail has landed a comprehensive agreement with VTG. The service agreement includes freight maintenance, wagon repair, fleet planning, supply chain and materials management. The contract provides for 24-hour mainline call out, engineering and logistics cover. The operator, Mendip Rail Limited, is a joint venture between two of the UK’s largest aggregate and cement producers: Hanson Aggregates and Aggregate Industries.

Growth aspirations for all concerned

VTG has been the rolling stock partner of Mendip Rail for much of the company’s existence. “As the UK’s largest lessor of rail freight wagons, VTG recognises the key role it plays in enabling its customers to move large quantities of product by rail rather than road, supporting the drive towards long-term sustainability”, said Colin Denman, MD of VTG Rail UK. “Our relationship with Mendip Rail goes back a very long way, and providing them with the best possible service, thereby enabling their business to operate to its maximum capabilities, is absolutely crucial. High quality wagon maintenance is a vital ingredient in achieving this and we are confident that Yellow Rail is the right partner to provide the improvements we need in order to meet our customer’s expectations.”

A Mendip Rail consist of VTG hoppers (Geograph UK)

Confidence in availability is a vital part of any rolling stock deal. For their part, MRL have praised the innovation brought by the third party maintenance partner. “We are delighted with the fresh approach to aggregate wagon maintenance brought by Yellow Rail”, said Jason Black, their MD. “[Mendip Rail] see them as a key stakeholder in achieving the growth aspirations for the MRL shareholders.” In accepting the well earned praise, Andy Kevins, the MD of Yellow Rail, explained how his was confident of delivering satisfaction to all parties. “Our company vision is to increase our capability in order to become more important to our customers”, her said. “The extension of our freight service portfolio to include freight maintenance is demonstration that we are progressing in our ambition. We are delighted and grateful that VTG Rail and MRL has given the company this exciting opportunity, in return we will deliver the improved services required.”

Collaborating and contributing to the national infrastructure

VTG’s UK fleet now comprises around 4,500 wagons including a “standard freight” sector for dry and solid products, a tank sector for petroleum and chemical products plus an intermodal sector covering a comprehensive range of container platforms including the award winning Ecofret, and Megafret platforms suitable for International traffic via the Channel Tunnel. Mendip Rail operates aggregate trains from the quarries of the Mendip Hills in South-West England, to London and South-East England. The quarries are at Torr Works and Dulcote Quarry, while Hanson has plants at Batts Combe Quarry and Whatley Quarry.

Field maintenance on a VTG wagon. Yellow Rail doing their stuff (Yellow Rail)

Mendip Rail already moves more than nine million tonnes of aggregate each year from the quarries in the Mendips in North Somerset. Much of the tonnage is destined for terminals in London and the South East, for use in various construction and infrastructure projects. As well as housing and road improvements, there is a significant commitment to the building of the high-speed rail project, HS2. Yellow Rail Ltd is a Derby-based rail engineering service company providing a range of safety critical services to the rail sector including freight wagon maintenance, bogie overhaul, engineering design, material supply, field services and mobile wheel re-profiling products and services.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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