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GB Railfreight wins contract to haul Caledonian Sleepers

GB Railfreight has won the contract to haul Caledonian Sleeper trains for Serco, beating out current operator DB Schenker.

This contract for the Eurotunnel subsidiary is worth £100m over 15 years and will commence in April.

GB Railfreight will be providing train drivers and locomotives for six night services southbound and six night haulage services northbound per week, from Sunday to Friday. These services will be operating on both the Lowland Sleeper route, between Euston and Edinburgh and Glasgow, and the Highland Sleeper route between Euston and Fort William, Aberdeen and Inverness.

DB Schenker had been hauling sleepers for more than a decade, but its current contract with FirstGroup ends when Serco takes over the newly-created separate Caledonian Sleeper franchise this spring.

From the beginning of the contract, four refurbed Class 92s will be used on the electrified routes south of Edinburgh and Glasgow. North of Edinburgh, the company is planning to utilise six class 73/9s from October 2015, which are currently undergoing work at Wabtec’s facility in Loughborough. In the meantime, it will be operating Class 47s, on hire from Harry Needle Railroad Company (HNRC).

GB Railfreight has called the contract a “significant development” for the company, highlighting its intentions for growth in the rail services market.

John Smith, the company MD, said: “We’ve been working closely with [Serco] in putting together a strategy that would work best for them on these given routes, and have invested in the appropriate rolling stock and training to make this strategy effective. We hope to build on this relationship over the next 15 years and ensure that passengers receive the optimum service.”

Serco’s managing director for the Caledonian Sleeper, Peter Strachan, said: “GB Railfreight are one of our key partners on the Caledonian Sleeper franchise. Together, we have worked closely to develop a traction strategy for the lifetime of the franchise which takes the service from 1 April through to the introduction of the new trains in 2018 and beyond.  GB Railfreight have extensive experience in the rail services market and we looking forward to working together.”

Earlier this week RTM reported that Spanish train manufacturer CAF signed a €200m agreement to supply a new fleet of 75 coaches for Caledonian Sleeper trains.

Alstom has also been awarded a 15-year service contract worth €125m by Serco to maintain the current coaches and the new fleet once it is delivered.

(Image source: Ed Webster)

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