GB Railfreight gambles on bi-mode locomotives

2022/05/05 at 11:00 AM

By 2025, GB Railfreight (GBRF), Britain’s third-largest rail freight operator, will extend its fleet with new bi-mode locomotives from Stadler Rail. 30 vehicles will be able to run on both electrified and non-electrified railway lines. GBRF will become UK’s second freight company, besides Direct Rail Services, to run the Stadler bi-mode locomotives.

In the coming years, GB Railfreight (GBRF) will add a new type of locomotive to its fleet. It is the Class 99 bi-mode Co’Co six-axle vehicle that will be powered from the overhead wires with 25-kilovolt alternating current and diesel fuel. Such an option makes the vehicles extremely efficient on the British railway network. The Class 99 locomotives will have a tractive effort of up to 500 kilonewtons and will be able to speed up to 120 kilometres per hour.

Class 99 bi-mode locomotive for GB Railfreight, source: Stadler Rail

The British rail freight operator will put into operation 30 vehicles of Class 99, which will be leased from Beacon Rail. To this end, Stadler Rail, Beacon Rail and GB Railfreight concluded a trilateral agreement for the supply of the locomotives and spare parts to them. “The Class 99 order underlines Beacon’s drive to support the UK’s journey towards a greener and more efficient rail network. We look forward to supporting the delivery programme for these locomotives ahead of introduction to service in 2025, providing further momentum to facilitate the modal shift from road to rail,” said Adam Cunliffe, CEO of Beacon Rail.

Stadler’s extensive experience in the UK

The Stadler bi-mode locomotives have been operating in the UK market since 2015. Direct Rail Services was the first company’s customer to order 10 four-axle Bo’Bo’ vehicles of Class 88. In January 2021 Rail Operations Group (ROG), the British rolling stock company, ordered 30 tri-mode locomotives of the Class 93 locomotives. It is expected that the first 10 vehicles will be delivered in 2023 for hauling passenger trains between London and Scotland.

Class 88 bi-mode locomotive operated by Direct Rail Services (DRS), source: Wikimedia Commons

“Stadler has extensive experience in the UK locomotive market. Over recent years, we have introduced the Class 68 diesel-electric locomotive, the Class 88 bi-mode locomotive and Europe’s first tri-mode locomotive, the Class 93, in line with our commitment to decarbonising rail transport. We are very proud to go one step further with the development of Class 99, a versatile, high-performance locomotive that will provide environmentally-friendly and cost-effective rail transport services, supporting the modal shift to rail,” added Iñigo Parra, CEO of Stadler Valencia, the Spain-based subsidiary of Stadler Rail that manufactures the bi-mode locomotives.

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