Three quarter trackside view of a new flatbed intermodal carrier wagon going through the final gauge clearance hoop on a sunny day with engineers and trees in background

GBRf get their new train sets

Image: GBRf corporate / Greenbrier / LinkedIN

Just eighteen months after announcing the project, GB Railfreight (GBRf) has taken delivery of the final batch of FEA-G designated intermodal wagons – a coupled pair design that can carry 6TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) per set. That translates into a common forty-foot container and a short twenty-foot unit per bed. The rolling stock batch has now arrived in the UK, marking the delivery of a total of 100 new intermodal wagons. The deal also includes a rake of 50 new JNA-X designated high-volume box wagons. The manufacturer is Greenbrier which has a number of locations in Eastern Europe.

The wagons are now on lease to GBRf from the experienced agent Porterbrook. A statement from the operator says the new rolling stock will significantly increase rail freight capacity in the UK, and help to further encourage modal shift from road to rail. GBRf, with their operational headquarters overlooking the busy East Coast Main Line near Peterborough, subscribes to the nationwide ambition of delivering a more sustainable railway and the company supports the UK’s net zero target.

Intermodal and bulk loads

“These new wagons are some of the best available in the UK right now and we are continually adding them to our services”, said Dave Golding, Asset Director at GB Railfreight. “They have allowed us to move an extra 1.2 million tonnes of aggregate every year. Combined, they will remove around 400,000 lorries movements from our roads a year, leading to a huge reduction in our carbon emissions and delivering significant road safety benefits.”

Close up of the side of a GBRf box wagon
Up close and personal with a GBRf JNA-X box wagon. Image: GBRf.

GBRf reiterated the capacity advantages of the new wagons. They say the innovative new FEA-G intermodal high-density twin wagons can carry six twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) on each service, significantly increasing the volume of cargo that can be transported on each journey. On the bulk loads manifesto, the JNA-X box wagons also represent a design evolution. They say the wagons feature additional strengthening on the box without adding any weight. “They can each carry 101.6 tonnes, and are playing a key role in the movement of construction materials for HS2 from the Peak District to Birmingham”, said a company statement.

Multiple hurdles overcome

The deal was first announced back in March last year and has been eagerly awaited by the British operator. They say the successful on time delivery is a significant achievement for the teams from GBRf, Porterbrook and Greenbrier as the project was impacted by the pandemic, a supply chain disruption, and surge in inflation and energy price increases due to the war in Ukraine. “In November 2022 the first JNA box wagons arrived into the UK, on schedule, followed shortly after by the first 60ft Intermodal Twin wagons”, said John Brown, Head of Sales at Greenbrier. “Both orders were complete in 2023 with the last wagons having just arrived.

GCI of the FEA-G wagon - a flat multimodal carrier
CGI of the FEA-G.  Image: © Greenbrier.

All of the large volume freight rolling stock orders for the UK have, for many years, been fulfilled abroad, mainly from Eastern and Southern European plants managed by multinationals like Greenbrier. British manufacturing is confined to a single specialist, WH Davis, who thrive on bespoke short orders. For this bulk buy, John Brown added that the project had overcome hurdles caused by Covid and the situation between Russia and Ukraine. Nevertheless, he said, Greenbrier had kept in touch with their customers and were committed to delivery.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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GBRf get their new train sets | RailFreight.com