Freightliner Group

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Freightliner Group
IndustryRail freight transport
PredecessorBritish Rail
Founded1995; 24 years ago (1995)
HeadquartersFitzrovia, ,
United Kingdom
Area served
Middle East
Key people
Gary Long (CEO)
ServicesBulk freight, Intermodal freight transport and logistics
RevenueUS$785 million [1]
Number of employees
ParentGenesee & Wyoming (95%)
Management (5%)
DivisionsIntermodal, Heavy Haul, Maintenance
SubsidiariesEuropean Rail Shuttle
Locomotive and wagons at the Leeds Vehicle Maintenance Facility

Freightliner Group is a rail freight and logistics company, formed in the United Kingdom in 1995, and now having expanded into Australia, The Netherlands and Poland. Freightliner Limited is the largest intermodal freight transport operator in the United Kingdom.[3] Freightliner Group is the second largest freight operating company in the UK by revenue, behind DB Cargo UK.[4] It is a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming.


British Rail[edit]

47376 in original Freightliner livery. This locomotive was used to launch the company in 1995, being named Freightliner 1995. It is now preserved on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway and is seen at Toddington on 25 September 2005

The origins of the Freightliner concept go back to the mid-1960s when as part of its modernisation and rationalisation programme, British Rail began moving freight using shipping containers on flat wagons between a series of dedicated inland terminals, using gantry cranes for transshipment between road and rail.[5]

Freightliner's first single-shipper train was operated on 20 August 1968, hauling specially-designed 30-foot containers carrying parts for Ford Escort cars that were destined for assembly in plants on the European mainland.[6] Although initially intended for domestic freight, this was soon overtaken by freight between deep-sea ports, such as Southampton Maritime and inland distribution terminals associated with centres of manufacturing or population, such as Birmingham Lawley Street.

Dudley Freightliner Terminal, 10 miles (16 km) from Birmingham, on the site of the old railway station was opened in October 1967. This proved to be one of the most profitable such terminals in the country, while the Birmingham terminal was ultimately one of the least financially viable. Yet by 1981, Freightliner was planning to close Dudley and transfer its function to Birmingham in order to boost the latter's fortunes. However, the Dudley terminal was given a reprieve in 1983, only for closure plans to re-emerge in 1986. It finally closed in 1986.[7]


As part of the Privatisation of British Rail the Freightliner business unit had its assets transferred into a new company, Freightliner (1995) Limited, in preparation for sale.[8] On 25 May 1996 Freightliner was purchased by a management buyout backed by 3i and Electra Private Equity.[9]

In 1999, Freightliner set up its Heavy Haul business. In March 2004 Freightliner launched Logico, providing short-term or one-off spaces on intermodal trains. In 2007 Freightliner commenced operations in Poland.


On 13 June 2008, Freightliner Group was purchased by Railinvest Holding Company Limited[10] a subsidiary of Arcapita Bank of Bahrain.[11][12]

In June 2009, Freightliner commenced operations in Australia.

In February 2015, Freightliner was sold by Arcapita Bank to Genesee & Wyoming. Under the deal, Genesee & Wyoming purchased a 95% shareholding which will increase to 100% by 2020.[13]

On 12 November 2015, British Rail Class 47 No. 47830 (D1645), which is operated by Freightliner, was named Beeching's Legacy to mark 50 years since the first container train ran under British Rail.[14]

In April 2018, Freightliner unveiled its new brand identity during an event at the NEC Birmingham, bringing the brand inline with parent company Genesee & Wyoming.[15]


Freightliner Group has the following subsidiaries:[16]

  • Freightliner Ltd
  • Freightliner Heavy Haul
  • Freightliner Maintenance (has maintenance facilities in the United Kingdom at Crewe Basford Hall and Leeds Midland Road)[17]
  • Freightliner Poland and Germany
  • European Rail Shuttle B.V.
  • Freightliner Australia
  • Freightliner Middle East


United Kingdom[edit]

When Freightliner was privatised in 1996, it only operated Intermodal container services. These ran from ports including Felixstowe, Southampton and Tilbury to terminals such as Birmingham, Trafford Park in Manchester,Stourton (Leeds), Coatbridge (Central Scotland), Ashton Gate in Bristol, and Wentlooge Newport South Wales. The network has been expanded with additional destinations added.[18] Freightliner also operate an extensive road distribution network with 300 road vehicles. Freightliner also provides drivers for Scottish TransPennine Express services.

In 1999, Freightliner set up Heavy Haul initially operating railway infrastructure trains for Network Rail moving ballast, rails etc. before moving into other bulk loads including aggregates, cement, coal, petroleum, scrap metal and waste. Initially run as a division of Freightliner Limited, in 2001 operations were transferred to a new subsidiary, Freightliner Heavy Haul Limited.[19]

In April 2006, Freightliner Maintenance Limited was established as a separate entity dedicated to the repair and maintenance of traction and rolling stock.[20]


Freightliner PL 66004 awaits its next duty at the railway station in Złotów, Poland on 30 September 2008

In 2006, Freightliner expanded its operations into Poland. A subsidiary company, Freightliner PL Sp. z o.o., was established to bid for contracts hauling coal traffic.[21] The first contract was for coal transport from Lubelski Węgiel Bogdanka SA near Bogdanka (Bogdanka-Lublin coal mine) to Kozienice Power Station. The service began in September 2007.[22][23] Most of Freightliner PL's services operate on the Gdańsk to Warsaw corridor and in southern Poland. In February 2015, Freightliner PL signed a €17·5m contract to lease five Newag Gliwice 5 MW electric six-axle E6DCF Dragon locomotives from ING Lease. With each equipped with a 520 kW diesel engine for last-mile operation, they are scheduled to be delivered from May to July 2016.[24]


Freightliner began exploring opportunities in the Australian rail market with Freightliner Australia Pty Ltd established by April 2007. By June 2008 Freightliner Australia had been accredited as a rail operator in the state of New South Wales[25] and by September 2009 also had accreditation in Queensland and Western Australia. In June 2009 Freightliner Australia commenced operating containerised cotton services from Wee Waa to Port Botany.[26][27] In September 2009 Freightliner Australia signed a 10-year deal with Xstrata to haul export coal from the Hunter Valley to Newcastle, commencing in late 2010.[28] Under the deal Xstrata own the rolling stock with Freightliner Australia providing the engineering, logistics, maintenance and operational support.[29] In May 2012 Freightliner Australia commenced operating a Warren to Port Botany service.

In October 2016, Glencore, who had purchased Xsrata, sold its Hunter Valley coal haulage business to Genesee & Wyoming Australia that is also owned by Freightliner's parent company Genesee & Wyoming. The deal which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close on 1 December 2016.[30]


In 2013, Freightliner bought Netherlands-based intermodal container operator European Rail Shuttle B.V. from Maersk Line.[31]


United Kingdom[edit]

Freightliner inherited a fleet of ageing Class 47 diesel locomotives and Class 86 and Class 90 electric locomotives from British Rail.

In 1997, Freightliner placed an order for six Class 57 locomotives. These were rebuilt by Brush Traction at Loughborough from Class 47s fitted with a refurbished EMD engine and a reconditioned alternator, improving reliability and performance. The first was delivered in July 1998. After an evaluation period Freightliner was sufficiently impressed to order a further six in June 1999.[32]

Various orders were placed for Class 66s with 111 eventually delivered. These replaced all of the Class 47s by 2004 and the Class 57s by 2008. Freightliner also leased some Class 66s formerly operated by Direct Rail Services.

In November 2007, Freightliner announced an order for 30 Class 70s under a project called Project Genesis.[33] The first two were delivered in November 2009. These have released a number of Class 66s with five going to Colas Rail, 13 to Freightliner Poland and four to GB Railfreight.[34]

In 2018, Freightliner ceased operating Class 47s and it sold its last one into preservation.


Freightliner PL ordered seven EMD Class 66s as well as 432 Greenbrier Eamnoss type coal hopper wagons. These have been supplemented by an EMD Class 66 formerly used by Häfen und Güterverkehr Köln and 12 Class 66s transferred from Freightliner's UK operations. A 13th was sent from the UK in October 2012. These units underwent various modifications to allow them to operate on the Polish network.[35]


Freightliner Australia commenced operations using hired in GL class locomotives from Chicago Freight Car Leasing Australia. After a longer term lease was agreed, two were repainted into Freightliner livery in September 2010.[36] The Warren service that commenced in May 2012 also uses locomotives hired from CFCLA. The Xstrata coal contract is operated by XRN class locomotives that are owned by the customer.[37][38] Wagon types are PHEH and PHYH for the coal traffic and CQBY, CQFY and CQYY on the grain traffic.[39]

In January 2015, two G class locomotives were purchased.[40]

Fleet detail[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Class Image Type Built Wheel arr. In traffic Numbers
08 Felixstowe North Terminal - Freightliner 08585 returning to Central Terminal.jpg Diesel Shunter 1953 0-6-0 10 08077/530-1/575/585/624/691/764/785/891
66 CLASS66LOCOMOTIVE.JPG Diesel locomotive 1999 Co-Co 127 7 (66/4) 413-6/418-420, 94 (66/5) 501-20/522-81/585/587-99, 19 (66/6) 601-7/610/613-23 , 7 (66/9)951-7
70 Trimley Branch Line - Freightliner 70017.jpg Diesel locomotive 2009 Co-Co 19 70001-11/013-020
86 86613 and 86610 at Ipswich.JPG Electric locomotive 1965 Bo-Bo 16 (Class 86/6) 604-5/607-10/612-4/622/627-8/632/637-9
90 Hugh llewelyn 90 041 (5569035600).jpg Electric locomotive 1987 Bo-Bo 10 90016/041-9
Total 183


Class Type Introduced Wheel arr. In traffic Numbers
EMD Series 66 Diesel 2006-07 Co-Co 13 66008-011, 013-015 & 66601-606[41]
Newag Dragon E6ACTd Electric
(Diesel last-mile slave)
2016 Co-Co 5 E6ACTd-101 - E6ACTd-105


Class Type Introduced Wheel arr In traffic Numbers
GL Class Diesel 1971-72 remanufactured 2004 Co-Co 2 GL111-112
XRN Class Diesel 2010-12 Co-Co 30 XRN001-030
G Class Diesel 1988 Co-Co 2 G533, G535


Class Type Introduced Wheel arr. In traffic Numbers Notes
Vossloh G1206 Diesel Bo-Bo
Shunting and local operations
Vossloh G 2000 Diesel Bo-Bo
Shunting and local operations
EMD Class 66 Diesel Co-Co Withdrawn, lease ended
BR182 (Siemens ES 64 U2) Electric Bo-Bo
BR185 (Bombardier TRAXX) Electric Bo-Bo
BR189 (Siemens ES 64 F4) Electric Bo-Bo



  1. ^ G&W agrees to buy Freightliner Group Accessed 25 Feb 2015
  2. ^ Careers Accessed 1 Sep 2015
  3. ^ Freight on Rail Members Accessed 30 April 2014
  4. ^ Britain's Railways Today - Freight
  5. ^ "British Railways Board Freightliner Brochure 1965" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Fords run first company Freightliner". Modern Railways. Shepperton, Middlesex: Ian Allan Ltd. XXIV (241): 551. October 1968.
  7. ^ Doherty, Andrew. "Dudley Station". Rail Around Birmingham.
  8. ^ Companies House extract company no 3118392 Freightliner (1995) Limited
  9. ^ "Secretary of State for Transport publication 27 November 1996".
  10. ^ Companies House extract company no 6522978 Railinvest Holding Company Limited
  11. ^ "Freightliner acquired by Arcapita". 13 June 2008.
  12. ^ "Electra Priv Equity ELTA Final Results". Bloomberg. 13 June 2008.
  13. ^ Genesee & Wyoming Inc Enters into Agreement to Acquire Freightliner Group Limited Genesee & Wyoming 24 February 2015
  14. ^ "Freightliner marks 50 years with a naming". The Railway Magazine. Vol. 161 no. 1, 377. Horncastle, Lincs: Mortons Media Group. 2 December 2015. p. 7. ISSN 0033-8923.
  15. ^ Freightliner unveils new brand identity at Multimodal Freightliner 2 May 2018
  16. ^ Today's Railways Europe, Issue 232, April 2015, page 10, ISSN 1354-2753
  17. ^ Bendall, Simon (January 2017). "New Basford Hall TMD unveiling with remembrance naming". Rail Express. No. 248. Horncastle: Mortons Media. p. 15. ISSN 1362-234X.
  18. ^ "Freightliner Intermodal Terminal & Ports Network".
  19. ^ Companies House extract company no 3831229 Freighliner Heavy Haul Limited
  20. ^ Companies House extract company no 5713164 Freightliner Maintenance Limited Limited
  21. ^ Freightliner prepares to compete in Poland, 1 March 2007
  22. ^ "Freightliner PL wykona zlecenie dla LW Bogdanka", (in Polish), 26 September 2011
  23. ^ "Polish freight progress",, 19 October 2007
  24. ^ "Freightliner PL orders Dragon locomotives". Railway Gazette. 2 February 2015.
  25. ^ "NSW Accredited Operators". Independent Transport Safety and Reliability Regulator. Archived from the original on 19 June 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  26. ^ "Freightliner Australia begins with cotton contract". Railway Gazette. 2 July 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  27. ^ Sam Collyer (2 July 2009). "UK's Freightliner enters Australian rail market". Lloyd's List DCN. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  28. ^ "Freightliner signs deal with Xstrata Coal" (PDF). Media Release. 25 September 2009. Retrieved 18 November 2009.
  29. ^ "Xstrata launches its own rail service". Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd. 12 September 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  30. ^ G&W and Macquarie to buy Glencore Rail coal haulage business Railway Gazette International 20 October 2016
  31. ^ "Freightliner Group announces acquisition of ERS Railways",, 19 Jun 2013
  32. ^ Rail Magazine (556): 54, 3 January 2007 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. ^ "GE enters UK loco market". Railway Gazette International. 26 November 2007.
  34. ^ AB Rail UK Loco database, archived from the original on 31 August 2012
  35. ^ FPL 66s Revised Data Table 15 March 2012
  36. ^ Motive Power magazine issue 76
  37. ^ Xstrata Fleet List
  38. ^ XRN Class
  39. ^ "FLA". Freightliner.
  40. ^ Change of ownership of Locomotives G533 and G535 Australian Rail Track Corporation 9 January 2015
  41. ^ "Diesel Locomotives". AbRail Rail Databases.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hunt, John (17–30 December 1997). "All night long...". RAIL. No. 320. EMAP Apex Publications. pp. 18–23. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.
  • Hunt, John (25 February – 10 March 1998). "All day and all of the night". RAIL. No. 325. EMAP Apex Publications. pp. 36–41. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.
  • Holley, Mel (21 October – 3 November 1998). "Freightliner to hit 50% growth two years earlier than anticipated". RAIL. No. 342. EMAP Apex Publications. p. 13. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.

External links[edit]