UK: GB Railfreight, leasing company Beacon Rail and Stadler have signed an agreement for the supply of 30 Class 99 six-axle electro-diesel locomotives for entry into service from 2025. The operator said they would be the first electro-diesel locomotives capable of hauling heavy freight at main line speeds on the UK network.
Stadler said the Class 99s would be a ‘versatile’ design, building on the success of around 100 six-axle EuroDual locomotives sold in continental Europe. The Class 99 would be adapted to the British loading gauge and specifications, with a maximum speed of 120 km/h and power at wheel of 6 000 kW under 25 kV 50 Hz electrification.
The ‘high-power low-emissions’ Stage V diesel engine will enable the locos to operate on non-electrified lines. Stadler told Rail Business UK the Class 99 has been designed to accommodate different engines with power ratings between 1 700 and 1 800 kW.
The locos will have an ‘outstanding’ tractive effort of up to 500 kN, high haulage capability and performance. Drivers will benefit from ‘optimal visibility’ and ergonomic desks.
The Class 99s are intended to replace EMD Class 66 diesel locomotives on trains to logistics hubs from ports such as Felixstowe. This is expected to cut emissions by around 50% per journey, reducing the operator’s carbon footprint by 428 tonnes per working day across intermodal services operating along partially electrified lines.
GB Railfreight CEO John Smith said the order announced on April 29 was ‘an important milestone for GB Railfreight and the UK’, and would ‘increase our industry’s levels of sustainability and propel us further towards meeting the government’s task to decarbonise the rail industry by 2040 in support of the UK’s net zero ambitions.’
Smith said ‘rail freight is not just the backbone of the UK’s economy; it is now leading the push to decarbonise supply chains. Our new and cutting-edge locomotives will immediately make a huge impact on reducing CO2 emissions, improve choice for businesses and consumers, and cut their carbon footprints when purchasing goods.
‘If scaled, with the help of the UK government to electrify more routes, the Class 99 locomotive can play an even greater role in helping supply chains and business operations become significantly more climate friendly.’
Iñigo Parra, CEO of Stadler Valencia, said the manufacturer has extensive experience in the UK locomotive market, having introduced the Class 68 diesel locomotives and Class 88 electro-diesels and won an order to supply tri-mode electric-diesel-battery Class 93 locos. ‘We are very proud to go one-step further with the development of the Class 99, a versatile, high-performance locomotive that will provide environmentally friendly and cost-effective rail transport services, supporting modal shift to rail.’
Beacon CEO Adam Cunliffe said the Class 99 was the result of a collaborative approach with its long-standing customer GB Railfreight and Stadler, and underlined the leasing company’s ‘drive to support the UK’s journey towards a greener and more efficient rail network’.