GB Railfreight applauds NHS heroes “66”

We’ve all been doing our bit. Applauding our frontline health workers; putting a rainbow in our windows; staying home to save lives or putting ourselves out there to help with the national effort to keep Britain fed, working and secure. So how about a modest token of recognition. A modest 130 tonnes and 21 metres of recognition. Put your hands together for 66731, rolling out of Arlington Fleet Services, in Eastleigh near Southampton, resplendent in her new Thank You NHS livery.

Not that they do not deserve a moment of praise themselves for their work in the field, keeping Britain supplied, but GB Railfreight and their industry partner Porterbrook have unveiled a specially repainted freight locomotive, liveried in the blue and white colours of the National Health Service.

Hail the NHS heroes

Timed perfectly, to roll out on the dot of 8pm – just as the weekly national applause began, the “66” joined in the cacophony of horns, that has become as much a part of the weekly appreciation as the bringing together of hands in appreciation, to thank frontline workers in the UK health and social care sector.

Rainbow colours and a very big thank you

GB Railfreight, one of the UK’s largest rail freight operators, decided to mark the fifth, now weekly ‘clap,’ by repainting one of its freight locomotives and unveiling it at 8pm just as millions of people across the UK were stepping outside their front doors to thank the frontline workers who are putting their lives on the line to save countless others across our hospital and care homes.

Love and affection

John Smith, managing director of GB Railfreight added his thanks to the applause, and praised this very visible appreciation. “Thank you to all NHS staff and carers across the country for the hard work you have been doing to keep us safe”, he said. “Across the UK you are seeing week in, week out, an outpouring of love and affection of our frontline staff and we are taking a minute today to say our thanks on behalf of GB Railfreight and the rail industry”.

“The unveiling of this locomotive is our way of saying thanks for all you are doing”, added Smith. “We are inspired by you and wanted to say thank you in the usual GBRf way, by painting one of our regular Class 66 which will be travelling the lengths and breadths of the country to keep our economy moving during the ongoing crisis. Now it will also carry our message of thanks to all our carers”.

Keeping hospitals on track

The repainting of 66731 was co-funded by the locomotive’s owner and long-term GB Railfreight partner, Porterbrook. The painting was undertaken by Arlington Fleet Services, Eastleigh. GBRf staff joined in with the clapping as the newly decorated locomotive was unveiled to express their gratitude to all those working to keep us safe during the ongoing pandemic.

Up close and personal

“We are delighted to support GB Railfreight in thanking NHS staff and carers for all that they do at this unprecedented time in our nation’s life”, said Mary Grant, cheif executive of Porterbrook, whose company is also hugely grateful to all the front-line railway staff. “The unsung heroes in keeping Britain’s economy moving”, she called them.

Into service on the frontline

It is probable GB Railfreight 66731 is playing its part in supporting the national effort to keep essential services running across the country from out of Southampton initially. GBRf services run from ports such as London Gateway, Southampton, Felixstowe and Teesport to distribution centres across the country. “These flows are ensuring that warehouses remain stocked, and supermarkets as well as other essential retailers remain supplied”, said the company – with a suitably sustained blast from 66731.


Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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