Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary Freightliner has successfully operated a 4 624 tonne ‘jumbo train’ of aggregates from Merehead in Somerset to Acton in London, which it described as ‘the heaviest freight train currently running in the UK’. This was a trial run ahead of Freightliner taking over the haulage contract for the Mendip Rail joint venture of Hanson UK and Aggregate Industries. As the contract envisages the movement of 8 million tonnes/year, G&W’s Bulk Commercial Director for the UK/Europe Region, David Israel said ‘it was crucial that we tested the maximum haulage capability using one of our powerful Class 70 locomotives’.

A programme of level crossing grade separation works has been proposed by the South Australian Freight Council in its Moving Freight 2019 submission to the 20 Year State Infrastructure Strategy, published on July 31. SAFC also argues that road improvements are needed on the Eyre Peninsula following the decision to switch bulk grain movements from rail to heavy lorries.

Mercitalia Rail has signed a four-year agreement with Italian steel processor Marcegaglia Group for the transport of steel by rail. Averaging 1·3 million tonnes per year during 2019-22, this will require the operation of around 30 trains per week, using new high-performance locomotives and ‘intelligent’ coil-carrying wagons. Principle flows will be on domestic routes from Ravenna to Gazoldo degli Ippoliti and Casalmaggiore, and international services from Italy to Germany, Poland and Serbia.

GB Railfreight has begun operating four trains per week for British Steel, moving coke nuts from Redcar to Scunthorpe in open wagons.

United Transport & Logistics Co Eurasian Rail Alliance has reported a 34% year-on-year increase in container traffic volumes on its China – Europe route, during the first six months of 2019. Westbound traffic rose 27% to 78 268 TEU and eastbound traffic by 45% to 56 921 TEU. According to President Alexei Grom, the container trains are ‘consistently’ covering an average of 1 100 km/day, reducing the Dostyk – Brest transit time to five days, ‘and in some weeks, 4·8 days’, which is the best that the company has ever achieved.

Mirko Pahl has stepped down as Chief Executive of TX Logistik for personal reasons, leaving the Mercitalia subsidiary with effect from July 31 after spearheading its restructuring since March 2017.

Royal Vopak, Mitsubishi Corp and Covestro have joined existing backer AP Ventures to inject €17m into Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies GmbH, which is working on the development of its Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier technology for the storage and transport of bulk hydrogen ‘as easily and efficiently as conventional liquid fuels’.

David Trent has been named Vice-President & Chief Digital Officer at Canadian National. Reporting to Executive Vice-President & Chief Information & Technology Officer Michael Foster, he will be responsible for modernising and updating CN’s scheduled railroading model.