More Jumbo train trial success for Freightliner

Freightliner jumbo train on tracks during the night.

Freightliner, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming Inc. (G&W), has successfully completed a trial running of a ‘Jumbo’ aggregates service between the Peak District and London for customers Tarmac.

The currently reduced demand for passenger travel has provided an opportunity to timetable the 39-wagon jumbo train on the rail network, transporting stone and construction materials to support critical infrastructure projects.

Departing from the quarry at Tunstead in the Peak District, on Tuesday 16 March, a single class 70 locomotive hauled the 39 wagons and a class 66 locomotive (for contingency and not under power) to Wembley Yard in North London, where the train was split into two portions, with two separate trains going onwards to terminals at Battersea and Paddington. After unloading the construction materials at the two terminals, the wagons were re-attached at Wembley Yard and returned to Tunstead as one train.

At 3,840 tonnes, this is the heaviest aggregates train ever to have operated on this route.  Usually the trains transporting aggregates and construction materials from the Peak District would carry up to 2,400 tonnes.  The additional volume on this jumbo service represents the equivalent of over 110 HGV journeys and a saving of around 89 tonnes CO2e compared to road.

Working in collaboration with Tarmac and Network Rail, Freightliner is now looking to carry out further trials of the jumbo train concept across this route.  Freightliner also continues to work closely with Network Rail to identify opportunities to reschedule services to make better use of network capacity by running longer trains that transport more freight or by speeding up journey times, thereby making services more efficient and productive and, in doing so, unlocking greater benefits for rail freight customers and the UK economy.

Tim Shakerley, Managing Director of UK Rail Services at Freightliner said: “Freightliner has worked closely with Tarmac and Network Rail to demonstrate the viability of running jumbo services from the Peak District.”  

“Transporting more freight on each train boosts both improvements to the productivity and efficiency of services and drives further environmental benefits by reducing the carbon emissions of each tonne of freight moved. We welcome the cross-industry support to trial these initiatives while demand for passenger travel is reduced and look forward to working in partnership with all stakeholders to secure these efficiency gains into the future.”

Chris Swan, Head of Rail at Tarmac said: “Effective use of the rail network is key in supporting the transition to a net zero society, and collaborative approaches are vital in helping the industry drive forward more innovation and sustainable solutions.

“We’re delighted to see the successful trial of our first ‘jumbo’ train transporting essential construction materials from Derbyshire to London as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting the delivery of a low-carbon built environment.”

Charlene Wallace, Director for Freight, National Passenger & Customer Experience at Network Rail, said: “Working in partnership going forward is going to be vital in helping maintain this level of success. Whilst passenger numbers are significantly reduced, we’ve been able to advance the benefits to be had with freight far quicker than ever before. I’d like to keep that open conversation with our cross-industry partners going for a more efficient and productive service for our freight customers now and in the future.”

David Hunter, Senior Route Freight Manager for Network Rail, said: “The pandemic’s made us all think differently and in rail freight’s case, we’re taking advantage of the space available in the timetable.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen a train of this weight and length take this route. By transporting more and further afield, we’re showing how the rail industry is building back better – adapting more efficiently to the needs of our economy and environment.”