GBRf is part of  Groupe Eurotunnel  (Photo: Eurotunnel)

EUROPE: UK freight operator GB Railfreight ran its first service through the Channel Tunnel on the night of November 3, hauling a Dourges – London intermodal service between Calais-Fréthun and Barking International Rail Freight Terminal.

The train was operated under a ‘hook-and-haul’ agreement with sister Groupe Eurotunnel company Europorte France, which has a contract to move containers from Dourges to Barking for logistics company John G Russell Ltd. GBRf used two of the 16 Class 92 electric locomotives which it had purchased from Europorte earlier this year.

The Dourges – Barking trains will run five times per week over a three-year period, carrying products for Procter & Gamble and other manufacturers on behalf of 2XL and Novatrans.

The round trip between Barking and Dourges has to take place within a tight timeframe, ‘and by achieving a minimum of five rotations each week, we achieve the best asset utilisation to enhance its commercial potential’, said John G Russell Ltd Director Kenneth Russell. The new route ‘is a massive opportunity for us and for companies on both sides of the Channel to take advantage of the efficiencies and environmental benefit of rail’, he added.

GBRf Managing Director John Smith said it had been the freight operator’s aim to move into the international market, and ‘this contract is a sign that we are heading in the right direction. In addition, the utilisation of Class 92s on High Speed 1 further supports our commitment to sustainable freight transport.’