The prototype Euro Dual locomotive from Stadler on display at a trade show

They’ve got 99 engines but not a problem for GBRf and Stadler

The prototype Euro Dual locomotive from Stadler on display. It has since been sold into service with a French operatorImage Falk2 - WikiCommons

British operator GB Railfreight has agreed a contract with Stadler to provide service and maintenance for their new class 99 bi-mode locomotives. Stadler, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of railway motive power, will cary out service duties on the new hi-tech locomotive fleet. The operator says Stadler’s service division will be critical in keeping the new locomotives running efficiently. 

The agreement will see Stadler Rail Services be responsible for all aspects of service and maintenance GBRf’s latest hybrid locomotives from 2025. Today’s news follows GBRf’s contract with Stadler and Beacon Rail to manufacture and deliver 30 of the new Class 99 bi-mode Co-Co locomotives.

With an eye to the future of a fully electrified network across Great Britain, optimistic operator GB Railfreight has commissioned a fleet of thirty electro-diesels, designated class 99, which are to be delivered by Stadler. The design is based on that manufacturers Euro Dual platform. Rolling stock intermediaries Beacon Rail will own the new hybrid fleet, and GBRf will be the lessee. The UK government’s electrification rollout, when complete, will enable the Class 99s to run on electric power across all UK routes and, according to GBRf, the full fleet has the capacity to reduce emissions by 585,000 tonnes of carbon per year.

Continued private sector investment

With the new locomotives representing a technological high water mark. There’s an equal need for high quality and reliable servicing. GBRf has agreed with Stadler that they will maintain the 30 locomotives at a new depot in Leicester. There, they will receive tailored maintenance solutions to ensure a high quality of service. Stadler will manage overhauls, spare parts, material supplies, vehicle repairs, mobile service support, data and maintenance software.

Two businessmen shaking hands and smiling for the camera. One is JoJohn Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, and the other is Paul Patrick, Managing Director of Stadler Rail Service UK.
John Smith, CEO of GB Railfreight, who appears to have made St Pancras International his office for the day, seals the deal with Paul Patrick, Managing Director of Stadler Rail Service UK.

“The service agreement with Stadler for the Class 99 locomotives brings together its design and maintenance divisions to ensure that rail freight continues to lead the decarbonisation of supply chains”, said John Smith, the CEO of GB Railfreight. “Continued private sector investment in the industry-leading Class 99s and their maintenance facilities, demonstrates a commitment to modernising and growing the rail freight sector in the UK to help deliver the government’s net zero ambitions.”

Proven track record and expertise

Stadler has been building trains for over 80 years. The Swiss firm, headquartered in Bussnang in eastern Switzerland, has a manufacturing presence in several territories, and a back up engineering facility in seventy locations. All that is served by a workforce of over 13,000 professionals. As well as a wide range of rolling stock and motive power, the company also has an enviable reputation for light rail vehicle production and, rather uniquely, claims to be the world’s leading manufacturer in the rack-and-pinion rail vehicle industry.

The class 99 fleet for GBRf is set to start delivery from 2025. “We have established a strong foothold in the UK over recent years”, said Paul Patrick, Managing Director of Stadler Rail Service UK. “[We] are delighted to have been awarded another Service contract, based on our proven track record and expertise in this field. The locomotives that Stadler will be responsible for will pave the way to a greener and more efficient rail network, supporting the industry’s ambition of promoting modal shift from road to rail. We are pleased to be supporting the government’s targets to decarbonise the UK railway by 2040, which will benefit our clients, British business and society alike.” GBRf has been steadily modernising its fleet over the past few years, having cleared out what it calls much of its ‘heritage’ inventory. The new locomotives will displace the relatively young class 66 diesels from the GBRf fleet.

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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