Network Rail launches zero-carbon freight service

A zero-carbon rail freight service has been launched by Network Rail and Varamis Rail.

A zero-carbon rail service launched by Network Rail and Varamis Rail is helping to promote the sustainable benefits rail has to offer, as online shopping and home deliveries across the UK continues to increase.

The zero-carbon freight service, running between Scotland and the Midlands from Monday to Friday, is targeting express parcels and third-party delivery companies, primarily dealing with next day delivery of consumer goods.

The new service is fully electric, and supports Network Rail and the rest of the rail industry as an environmentally friendly alternative to road haulage.

It gives access to urban rail stations located within the heart of city centres and is expected to benefit the rail industry in the future as an example of best practice.

Georgie Newby, Network Rail’s senior commercial and customer relationship manager, said he was delighted the organisation had been able to support the launch of this “innovative new service” from the latest freight operating company to join the network.

“It is the result of hard work and dedication across multiple organisations, all working closely together to deliver a great, zero carbon service for logistics companies to use,” he said.

“We look forward to delivering other innovations to keep growing the amount of parcel logistics transported by rail.”

Phil Read, Varamis Rail managing director, added: “As the UK's newest train operator, Varamis Rail is keen to promote the sustainable benefits that the railway has to offer to the UK economy along with Network Rail.

“The increase in online shopping and home deliveries over recent years has accelerated the demand to find a more environmentally friendly solution to moving our parcels, products, or light goods around the UK. One solution is the electrified rail network.

“Varamis Rail is incredibly appreciative of the support it has received from Network Rail to enable a start-up of its operations and we look forward to building on this relationship as the rail industry looks to play its part in decarbonising the UK.”

Industry partners Eversholt Rail converted a number of fully electric four-car trains formerly used in passenger service to enable them to carry freight.

Meanwhile, Network Rail provided the necessary operating licenses, contracts, and train paths for the service to operate.

Trial operations of the service were carried out in October 2022, enabling logistics companies to test the service before the January 2023 launch.

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