DB Schenker Rail (UK)

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EWS redirects here. For other uses, see EWS (disambiguation)
DB Schenker Rail (UK) Ltd.
Industry Rail freight
Predecessor(s) British Rail ( -1995),
North and South Railways (1995–1996),
English, Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS) (1996–2009).
Founded 1995
Headquarters Doncaster, England, UK
Area served United Kingdom
Key people Edward Burkhardt (Chairman and Chief Executive 1995–1999)[1]
Keith Heller (Chief Executive / Co-chairman) 2004–2010[2][3]
Alain Thauvette, CEO[4]
Services Bulk freight and intermodal logistics
Parent Deutsche Bahn via DB Schenker
Subsidiaries Euro Cargo Rail, Stobart Rail
Website www.rail.dbschenker.co.uk

DB Schenker Rail (UK) is the British rail branch of DB Schenker - it is the largest UK rail freight operator, and a wholly owned subsidiary of the German Deutsche Bahn AG.[5][6] Headquartered in Doncaster, England, before 2009 the company was known as English, Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS).

The company was established as North and South Railways in 1995 by a consortium led by Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation, and was renamed EWS the following year, following the acquisition of five of the six freight companies created by the privatisation of British Rail, while Freightliner was privatised through a management buyout.[7]

On 28 June 2007, EWS was acquired by Deutsche Bahn AG, and in 2009 it adopted the DB Schenker brand, along with Deutsche Bahn's other freight organisations in Europe (including Railion).


English, Welsh and Scottish Railway[edit]

Class 66 with coal wagons in EWS livery (2011).

The company was formed as North and South Railways[8] in 1995 by a consortium headed by Wisconsin Central, with additional financing provided by the financial sector,[9] including Berkshire Partners and Fay Richwhite.[10]

The company's first acquisition was that of Rail Express Systems on 9 December 1995, for £24 million.[11][12] With this came the contract for the Royal Mail train service, including the Travelling Post Office trains; the contract was one of the most profitable obtained by the company.[9] Then, on 24 February 1996, British Rail's three trainload freight companies - Loadhaul Ltd, Mainline Freight Ltd and Transrail Freight Ltd - were acquired for a total of £225 million.[11][12] All four companies were subsequently merged into North and South Railways, and on 10 July 1996 the name English, Welsh and Scottish Railway, or EWS for short, was adopted.[13][14]

One of the first actions of the enlarged company was to seek volunteers for redundancy, as it sought to reduce staff numbers by around 3000, from 7600.[15]

On 22 November 1997 EWS took over the loss-making Railfreight Distribution, for which it received grants and subsidies estimated to amount to £242 million over eight years,[16] including subsidies for the use of the Channel Tunnel.[17] Railfreight Distribution's businesses included international containerised freight, movement of cars and automotive components by rail, and freight services for the Ministry of Defence. At the time of the takeover, it had 150 locomotives including the specialised Class 92 locomotives for the Channel Tunnel, and was making a yearly loss of around £65 million.[16] Railfreight Distribution was renamed English, Welsh and Scottish Railway International Ltd on 1 December 1998.[13]

The new company had over 900 locomotives and 19,000 freight wagons, and 7,000 employees. Track access charges were renegotiated and after 1800 job redundancies the workers involved in profit sharing and other incentivised working plans; as a result shipping rates were reduced by over 30%.[18] Many locomotives inherited on foundation were considered unreliable, and expensive to maintain;[19] the company invested heavily in modernisation of its rolling stock; by 2002 £750 million had been invested,[20] including 280 new locomotives and over 2000 new wagons.[9]

EWS's services included mail, locomotive hire, waggonload traffic (branded 'Enterprise', founded by Transrail Freight), cross channel trains via the Channel Tunnel, trainload freight including oil, aggregates, cement and traffic related to the coal, electricity generation and steel industries, and infrastructure trains for Railtrack.[9] Additionally, in the decade following privatisation EWS began to compete for container traffic contracts,[note 1] and its competitor Freightliner Group also entered into competition for trainload freight, as did DRS (a subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels) which was initially set up to move radioactive materials by rail.[9] EWS's turnover in 1999 was £533.7 million (an 80% market share by value) with a profit of £32.8 million.[9]

National Power who had operated trains for their power stations under the open access regulations had their train operations acquired by EWS in 1998.[9]

In 2001 the Canadian National Railway (CN) bought Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation for its North American holdings (Wisconsin Central Ltd.) and so became a major shareholder (42.5%) of EWS; the company announced its intentions to divest itself of Wisconsin Central's foreign holdings.[21]

The contract with Royal Mail was lost in 2003 (switching to road transport), due to cost.[22] EWS acquired the assets of wagon bogie company, Probotec Ltd. in 2005,[23][24][note 2] forming it into a subsidiary, "Axiom Rail".[28]

The French rail freight subsidiary Euro Cargo Rail was founded in 2005.

By 2006 EWS's turnover was approaching £1 billion, while profit was £14 million.[29]

In 2006 EWS acquired wagon maintenance business Marcroft (Stoke on Trent), as a result of the potential of the acquisition to reduce competition in the UK wagon repair market the acquisition was referred to the Competition Commission by the Office of Fair Trading, who required it to sell all or part of the business excluding Marcroft's works at Stoke.[30]

DB Schenker Rail (UK) Ltd.[edit]

Class 59 at National Railway Museum, York at DB Schenker livery unveiling (January 2009)

On 28 June 2007, it was announced at a press conference held by Deutsche Bahn (DB), EWS and Spanish rail forwarder Transfesa that DB was to acquire all the shares in EWS as soon as contracts were signed.[31] The value of the deal was estimated at £300 million; at the time EWS had a market share of around 70% in the United Kingdom and around 5000 employees.[32]

Initially it was announced that EWS would not be rebranded,[33] but on 1 January 2009 EWS, DB's existing Freight organisation Railion and their freight logistics organisation DB Schenker were re-branded DB Schenker.[34]

As part of a formal launch of the new brand,[note 3] a Class 59 locomotive 59206 was unveiled in full DB Schenker branding at a ceremony at the National Railway Museum in York on 21 January 2009.[36]

In 2009 DB Schenker Rail began work to enable Class 92 hauled trains to operate freight services on the High Speed 1 by installing in cab TVM signalling. The project received funding from the European Commission and it was originally anticipated services would begin in early 2010.[37] On 25 March 2011 for the first time a modified class 92 locomotive travelled from Dollands Moor to Singlewell using the TVM430 signalling system.[38] The first of five planned test trains ran as a loaded container train from Hams Hall, West Midlands to Novara, Italy on 27 May 2011.[39][40] DB planned to upgrade an additional five Class 92 locomotives to allow them to run on High Speed 1, making a fleet of six.[41][42]

In July 2011 a trial run of wagons carrying curtain walled swap bodies built to a larger European loading gauge was run from Dollands Moor, Folkestone to east London.[43] From 11 November 2011 a weekly service using European sized swap bodies has run between Barking, London and Wroclaw, Poland using High Speed 1.[44][45]


DB Schenker Rail (UK) have the following fleet of locomotives:

DB Schenker Rail (UK) have the following fleet of electric multiple unit:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ After 2002 began intermodal services from the ports of Felixstowe, Southhampton, and Tilbury.[13]
  2. ^ Probotec was formed 2004 from Powell Duffryn Rail.[25] Powell Duffryn Rail originated as the Cambrian Wagon Company, registered 1905, numerous amalgamations and changes of shareholding, became part of Powell Duffryn in 1935;[26] also acquired the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company in 1986.[27]
  3. ^ Previously two EWS locomotives had received DB Schenker branding — including a light blue Class 60 named "Teenage Cancer Trust"[35]


  1. ^ "Edward A. Burkhardt". www.railword.com. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Don Phillips (25 August 2005). "Free Flow: Getting the French on board". www.nytimes.com (New York Times). 
  3. ^ "Keith Heller's contribution to the railway honoured with locomotive naming". www.rail.dbschenker.co.uk. DB Schenker UK. 19 January 2010. 
  4. ^ "Alain Thauvette , Member of the Management Board of DB Schenker Rail (Region West)". www.dbschenker.com. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  5. ^ "Transport Committee - Written evidence from DB Schenker". Parliament of the United Kingdom. 25 November 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "DB Schenker Profile". DB Schenker. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "History". www.freightliner.co.uk. Freightliner Group Ltd. 1996. Retrieved 6 July 2011. ""1999 : Freightliner was privatised through a management buyout" 
  8. ^ Lousie Butcher (18 March 2011). "Railways: privatisation, 1987–1996". www.parliament.uk. House of Commons Library. p. 13. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g C. Nash; T. Fowkes (2004). "Rail Privatisation in Britain - Lessons for the Rail Freight Industry". In European Conference of Ministers of Transport. Economic Research Centre. European integration of rail freight transport (Round Table 125). OECD Publishing. pp. 61–94. 
  10. ^ "North & South Railways Ltd acquires Rail Express Systems(UK)". www.alacrastore.com. Thomson Reuters. 8 December 1995. 
  11. ^ a b "The Sale of Rail Freight Distribution". Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions / National Audit Office. 26 March 1999. p. 2. 
  12. ^ a b "Rail Privatisation". hansard.millbanksystems.com. Hansard, House of Commons, UK. 27 December 1996. volume 296, 275W. 
  13. ^ a b c Philippe Thalmann (2004). The dynamics of freight transport development: a UK and Swiss comparison. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 34–36. ISBN 0-7546-3756-5. 
  14. ^ WebCHeck - Select and Access Company Information, Companies House , see entries for ENGLISH WELSH & SCOTTISH RAILWAY HOLDINGS LIMITED, Company No. 03116322
  15. ^ Christian Wolmar (5 April 1996), "Rail freight to slash workforce", www.independent.co.uk (The Independent) 
  16. ^ a b "The Sale of Rail Freight Distribution". Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions / National Audit Office. 26 March 1999. 
  17. ^ Mathew Horsman (26 December 1996). "BR prefers US firm as freight bidder". www.independent.co.uk (The Independent). 
  18. ^ Jay P. Pederson, ed. (1999). "Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation". International Directory of Company Histories 24. St. James Press. 
  19. ^ Brian Hollingsworth (2000). "Class 66 Co-Co freight locomotive". Illustrated Directory of Trains of the World. MBI Publishing Company. p. 468. ISBN 0-7603-0891-8. 
  20. ^ House of Commons. Transport Committee, ed. (2003). "Mr Graham Smith, Planning Director and Mr Allen Mardsen, English Welsh & Scottish Railway (EWS) examined". Ports: Oral and written evidence. The Stationery Office. pp. EV 16 – EV 18. 
  21. ^ Nisse, Jason (4 February 2001). "EWS shunted into siding". The Independent (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  22. ^ Alan Jones (6 June 2003). "Royal Mail switches post transport from rail to road and air". www.independent.co.uk (The Independent). 
  23. ^ "EWS acquires Probotec", www.worldcargonews.com, May 2005 
  24. ^ "EWS acquires Probotec assets", Logistics & Transport Focus 7 (5), June 2005: 14 
  25. ^ "Industry News in Brief", www.railwaygazette.com, 1 June 2004, " Powell Duffryn Rail [has been] renamed Probotec Ltd, a name 'derived from Professional Bogie Technologies'." 
  26. ^ Burns, Hayden (Dec. 2003; amended Jan. 2005), "Glamorgan Archives - Cambrian Wagon Works Ltd and Powell Duffryn Wagon Co. Ltd records", www.archiveswales.org.uk 
  27. ^ Moody's International Manual 3, 1995: 6792 
  28. ^ "Axiom gets its act together", RAIL (555), 20 Dec 2006: 42–43 
  29. ^ House of Commons: Transport Committee, ed. (2008). Freight transport: eighth report of session 2007-08. The Stationery Office. p. EV 80. 
  30. ^ EWS Railway Holdings Limited / Marcroft Holdings Limited merger inquiry, Competition Commission, 12 Sep 2006 
  31. ^ "Deutsche Bahn plans takeover of EWS and Transfesa". Deutsche Bahn. 28 June 2007. Archived from the original on 5 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  32. ^ Alistair Osborne (29 June 2007). "German rail giant confirms £300m deal for EWS shares". www.telegraph.co.uk (The Telegraph). 
  33. ^ Falkner, James (29 June 2007). "DB gets go-ahead for rail takeovers". International Freighting Weekly. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  34. ^ "EWS to rebrand as DB Schenker in new year". ifw-net.com. 17 December 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  35. ^ "Media Center". Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  36. ^ "DB Schenker unveils new look for UK rail freight at the National Railway Museum, York". www.rail.dbschenker.co.uk (Press release). DB Schenker. 21 January 2009. 
  37. ^ Sources:
    "Class 92 modifications for HS1 freight". Railway Herald (179): 3. 1 June 2009. 
    "Freight trains set to use High Speed 1". DB Schenker Rail. 16 April 2009. 
  38. ^ "European sized rail freight to arrive in the UK soon, following successful locomotive trial" (Press release). DB Schenker Rail (UK). 25 March 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  39. ^ "DB Schenker Rail operates first freight train over High Speed 1" (Press release). DB Schenker Rail (UK). 27 May 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  40. ^ "First freight on High Speed 1". Railway Gazette International (London). 29 May 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2011. 
  41. ^ "DB Schenker to upgrade locomotives for High Speed 1 service". Railway Technology.com. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  42. ^ "Locomotives upgraded for European rail freight services on High Speed 1". Press Releases. DB Schenker Rail (UK). 7 October 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2012. "investment will give DB Schenker Rail UK a fleet of six High Speed 1 enabled locomotives" 
  43. ^ "DB Schenker Rail operates first European sized freight train over High Speed 1", www.rail.dbschenker.co.uk (DB Schenker Rail (UK)), 27 July 2011 
  44. ^ Katie Silvester (December 2011), "Rail Professional interview: Alain Thauvette", www.railpro.co.uk (Rail Professional) 
  45. ^ "DB Schenker delivers first Poland to UK service", www.rail.dbschenker.co.uk (DB Schenker Rail (UK)), 15 November 2011 

Further reading[edit]

  • Sutton, Philip (August 2007). "Burkhardt on EWS". Rail Express 135: 32–37. 

External links[edit]