Rail freight


Three revamped locos sent into service following 10-year Network Rail lease

The first three of a new freight fleet of refurbished 73/9s have entered service following a 10-year lease agreement between GB Railfreight and Network Rail.

The new fleet will be used for infrastructure monitoring (hauling trains that monitor the track and potential defects) and possession management (hauling day or overnight engineering trains).

The million-pound loco overhaul retained the same underframe, with Brush Traction replacing the original 600hp English electric engine with new 1600hp MTU R43 4000 V8, providing increased power, improving fuel economy and enhancing versatility.

Because of the changes, Network Rail will now be able to cover a much wider area during monitoring and around possessions, extending beyond the southern region. As part of the contract, GB Railfreight will also continue to support the infrastructure provider’s ongoing track and engineering operations.

Doug London, managing director for Brush Traction, said: “Wabtec, through its Brush Traction business, is delighted to have worked with GBRf to return these locomotives to service. The locomotives have benefited from a full physical overhaul as well as having had significant engineering upgrades applied to provide a highly engineered specification.

“Wabtec will provide full service support to GBRf and Network Rail over many years of service as part of its commitment to the program. The activity to refurbish a further seven locomotives is at an advanced stage in support of entry into service later this year.”

Another eight locos are currently being refurbished and tested at Brush Traction and will go into service on other contracts later in the year.

John Smith, managing director of GBRf, said: “These electro-diesel 73/9s are incredibly versatile and powerful, and can be used on a wide variety of routes across the regions. This deal is another sign of the significant investment GBRf is making in the domestic freight industry.”

According to Paul Gilbert, operations director for Network Rail’s national supply chain, the locos are a “quick and cost-effective way” of boosting their fleet and increase overall capability and reliability.

Earlier this year, GBRf brought the first of their 21 new Class 66s into service for use on various works across the network.

Its total fleet currently includes 72 Class 66s, 20 Class 73s, 16 Class 92s, four 0809s and 12 DI8 shunters. This will expand further when another six Class 66s are introduced in January 2016.

Freight performance this year

According to figures released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) yesterday, the total amount of freight moved during the first quarter of 2015-16 has dropped a dramatic 17.7% compared to the same quarter last year.

The main reason behind this was the reduction in the number of coal moved – 61.2% less than in the same time last year. This is the lowest quarterly value recorded since the start of the time series.

The number of freight train movements has also continued to fall, a steady trend since 2005-6.

But freight delay also fell by 19%, the equivalent of 10.3 minutes less per 100 train kilometres.

Despite the bleak figures, the volume of freight moved in 2014-15 was the second highest on record, behind only a marginally higher amount in 2013-14.

In the first quarter of the financial year, domestic intermodal accounted for the largest (34.7%) proportion of total freight moved, closely followed by construction (22.7%).

Four of the seven commodities recorded a drop compared with the same quarter last year, particularly in regards to coal. Metals, oil and petroleum, and domestic intermodal services also fell.

The massive drop in coal transportation could be explained by the doubling of the UK’s top-up carbon tax from 1 April this year, reducing the amount of coal moved to power plants and the outputs from these plants. The closure of the employee-owned Hatfield Colliery in June also hit the amount of rail-moved coal.

According to the ORR, construction supply is still a good barometer of economic recovery, as the commodity recorded an increase this quarter.

(Image shows 73962, pictured in April 2015. Creative Commons, some rights reserved. Image credit.)


Opsadviser   25/09/2015 at 10:53

Why illustrate an item about Class 73/9s with a picture of a Class 66? And 73s are locomotives, not trains. Not impressed by the standard of reporting - expect this from the national press, not the technical press!

RTM   25/09/2015 at 11:13

Photo updated

Ian   28/09/2015 at 09:45

"Hatfield Colliery Power Station"........erm.......... try again!

Simon   28/09/2015 at 14:43

Will be interesting to see how the RVEL 73/9s compare with the Brush rebuilds which GBRF have now got. I guess making more efficent locos from using the same body shell of an older loco makes sense and I admire there entrepreneurism in recycling an old asset into something fit and new for the 21st century railway. Will be interesting to see how well these get on generally and those which will be operating on the Caledonian Sleeper from later this year.

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