Memorandum by GB Railfreight (FOR 108)
THE FUTURE OF THE RAILWAYS
GB Railfreight was established in 1999 to operate
rail freight services in Britain. It is the first new rail freight
company since privatisation of British Rail. The company commenced
services in April 2000.
Currently, GB Railfreight:
hauls track renewal materials and
supports track maintenance work for Network Rail, mostly in eastern
hauls intermodal containers for Medite
Shipping between Felixstowe Port, the West Midlands and Northeast;
hauls Gypsum between ports, power
stations and gypsum board factories for British Gypsum; and
provides a range of services to other
customers under short-term contracts, including provision of drivers
To deliver these services we have:
17 new class 66 locomotives, leased
from HSBC Rail; and
recruited and trained almost 100
staff, including 64 Train Managers (Drivers) and Assistant Train
Managers who drive the trains and perform a wide range of other
duties under flexible work terms.
Our objective is to provide excellent customer
service. All staff work as an integrated team, without sharp demarcations
between management and production workers.
GB Railways is a wholly-owned subsidiary of
GB Railways Group Plc, which has recently been acquired by FirstGroup
GB Railfreight currently has about 2% of the
UK rail freight market, and is seeking to continue expanding.
We are currently in discussions with a range of potential customers.
"Is the Regulator right, or is rail an
outmoded form of transport?"
The Regulator is rightrail
remains very competitive for certain types of transport, in particular
high volume movements.
Is the present network the right one; if not,
how should it be changed?
Given the high cost of constructing
new railways, we think that major change in the network is unlikely.
We think some new routes may be built, but major line closures
What sort of traffic is the network best used
There is great variety in the nature
of the network and demand on particular corridors. Major inter-city
routes such as the West Coast and East Coast Main Lines are dominated
by high speed and high volume passenger services, although there
is also some capacity for freight. Other routes, for example Ipswich-Peterborough,
carry very little passenger traffic and can carry more freight.
How does our network compare with other railways,
and what lessons can we learn from other countries?
Britain has a well developed rail
network that is the envy of many other countries. Coverage of
the network is generally very good. Potential for rail freight
services are constrained on some routes by the availability of
train paths, and also historic under-investment in depots, signalling,
passing loops, etc.
Many lessons can be learned from
other countries, however the UK situation is in many ways unique
with a network of intensive passenger services between several
centres, through congested conurbations.
We look forward to answering any other questions
you may have at the hearing.