UK: The Mendip Rail joint venture of aggregate and cement producers Hanson Aggregates and Aggregate Industries has awarded Freightliner a long-term contract to haul an expected eight million tonnes of aggregate a year from quarries in Somerset to terminals in London and the southeast of England. The current contract is held by DB Cargo.

The contract, covering approximately 107 000 annual wagon-loads, is scheduled to start in November 2019. As part of the agreement Freightliner will purchase Mendip Rail’s fleet of eight EMD Class 59 locomotives.

‘By adding one of the largest bulk haulage contracts in the UK, we are also adding to the foundation of our long-term bulk business as we have successfully replaced traffic losses caused by the collapse of the UK coal industry in 2015’, said Freightliner Chief Executive Officer Gary Long when the contract was announced on December 20.

The Mendip Rail business has its origins in the 1980s when Foster Yeoman (now part of AI) bought its own locomotives in an effort to improve the reliability of rail services. The EMD Class 59s entered service in 1986. Hanson adopted a similar model, and the two companies then founded the Mendip Rail joint venture in 1993.