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Intercity railfreight are the only multi-function rail facilitator in the UK

Metro Logistics has the principal objective of helping local authorities to cut congestion and pollution in town and city centres.

It draws on our experience of moving freight on passenger trains: whereas in the past we have utilised the marginal space available in lockers or power cars, with ML we capture whole carriages which are unused on off-peak services running between outer urban and city centre stations.

We’re also utilising the advances in cycle logistics technology which enables us to employ standardised freight units that can easily and quickly be wheeled on/off trains straight to a power assisted trailer harnessed to the humble bicycle. Once again urban stations become dynamic freight hubs served by sustainable local transport.

What has set the model apart is the commitment to rail related property from institutional investors with a keen interest in sustainable transport and distribution.

With money available for station improvements and local facilities it helps councils achieve a shift to public transport; at the same time, using the trains to move larger volume freight at the same time as passengers makes better use of rail capacity and reduces the number of vans delivering into town centres.

Thus metro logistics demonstrates a transport virtuous circle.   Watch the video to the right for more…

Logistics what changed and what will continue to change?

Working with the rail industry

Huge pressures have been brought to bear on supply chains: from one side the relentless drive to offer customers same day e-commerce fulfilment whilst from the other gridlocked roads and government under intense pressure to cut the congestion costing the British economy billions, and the pollution that is now killing thousands of people. Something has to give.

And it’s coming: the Road to Zero policy, ultra-low emission zones, congestion charging .. it’s going to make distribution costly and painful.

Once upon a time there was this thing called Red Star Parcels, a network of fast, frequent and efficient services that used passenger trains and dedicated parcels trains to get consignments between town and city centres. Today we have internet-based control systems and some pretty amazing technology that offers truly sustainable links between stations and delivery points.

So why not go back to a model that worked – especially when rail speeds can now AVERAGE in excess of 90mph between key centres?

The future is rail.

Intercity Railfreight has straddled the boundary between the railway industry and road-based logistics for close on ten years: we pride ourselves on being able to speak both languages and offer a translation to those who remain mystified by either – or both!

We have been the only company to cut a path through this jungle and overcome the obstacles to get freight back onto passenger trains. We see the significant role that railway stations can play in facilitating sustainable last mile logistics and how the railway can be much better utilised to offer customers a range of services – from a single parcel to be moved immediately through to 186mph high speed freight trains linking southern Europe to the UK’s main distribution hubs.

Our experiences moving some of the most time sensitive and perishable items over long distances have proven that rail IS reliable: it’s also secure, cost effective and sustainable. We have also proven the ease by which sustainable first and last mile solutions can be perfectly dovetailed into what has become a highly efficient door to door service, with a suite of software systems enabling us to track trains, assess the network and spot problems well in advance.

Compare this with the costly and growing unpredictability of moving anything by road.

Pollution

International

Depending on who you want to believe somewhere in the region of 40,000 people in the UK are dying prematurely each year from pollution related disease: more of our young people are inflicted with asthma and pollution is estimated to cost the NHS some £20bn/annum.

The diesel lorries and vans that form the backbone of the logistics industry are very firmly in the sights of the policy makers who themselves are in the sights of bodies such as the World Health Organisation and a myriad of pressure groups demanding change.

Ironically those very same people may not make the link between the click of the mouse button marking their latest internet purchase and the diesel van pulling up outside; they also might not make the link between that mouse click, the diesel van pulling up outside and their child being diagnosed with asthma.

In some parts of the UK clean air is no longer a given and our society is paying a heavy price.

It doesn’t have to be like this when there is a wealth of untapped capacity and potential elsewhere: it’s called rail.

We started to wonder why it was that rolling stock capable of speeds up to 186mph was being converted to razor blades.

So, we did some digging and started some conversations: how about linking (more readily available and cheaper) land and key production centres in Spain and France to the key centres in the UK? Very high speed means much shorter transit times; shorter times mean extended shelf life and less waste & higher profitability; cheaper land and good connectivity means less cost and less grief trying to get planning permission for that shiny new DC that’s probably going to be in the wrong place within a few years.

Technology can cater for multi-temperature and it is possible to even pick to order on the train.

186mph freight trains …. a reality!

Flexible freight the best of both worlds

So, what about all these trains that you will see either parked up in sidings at off-peak times or running around carrying very few passengers? Ever wondered why this capacity could not be put to better use?

We’ve not just wondered, we’ve teamed up with our very good friends at 42 Technology in order to help them bring their flexible space concept to market and demonstrate how technology could be employed to capitalise on the vast amounts of wasted passenger train space running into town and city centres.

Watch the video.

So, push the button on lightly loaded trains and there’s your space for freight between outer-urban hubs and central stations. Throw in the sort of kit that’s available to cycle logistics operators now and you have a wheel-on/off arrangement directly between the train and the cycle trailer.

Optimum use of capacity, sustainable last mile and less (diesel) vehicles on the road. Push the button at peak times and there’s your passenger seats again.

Even parts of the rail network are becoming congested so what better way to make use of existing infrastructure and (expensive) assets than the mixed use train that can get both passengers and freight to their destination quickly and sustainably?

What you thought was too difficult before - we have already done.
What you think is difficult tomorrow we will help you solve today.

FAST FACTS

Intercity Railfreight pioneered the re-introduction of unaccompanied freight on passenger trains catering for a wide market. We’d like to think we’re the only ones doing this because we’re clever, but suspect the harsh reality is that we’re the only ones who have been daft enough to expend endless amounts of time, energy and money cutting through a great swathe of rules and regulations to come up with the complex suite of processes to enable it to happen.

You also have to believe; and we really do believe in this!

That is exactly what we’re NOT! We do work with a number of courier companies who have become our very carefully selected partners and it is they who are market facing in their respective areas. Our courier partners can offer you a whole range of services to meet your needs and some of these will of course include our rail services.

As our rail service network grows so the proportion of consignments moved by train will also grow.

There are also some key factors that stand us well apart from the mainstream. Firstly, your consignment is FULLY INSURED (at no additional cost); secondly, we can arrange collection much later in the day giving you additional time to prepare your consignment and finally, probably most importantly, we’re future-proofed – congestion charges, ultra-low emission zones …. no impact upon us whatsoever.

Our role in life is that of a facilitator; we’re not prescriptive, our aim is to work with partners who see the use of rail as a means of overcoming the issues outlined previously and whose business challenges are unique. From our understanding of that business we advise how rail may be dovetailed into the customer’s supply chain and then assemble the service components from our suite of rail services

We have a mix that comprises: small parcel freight moved on scheduled passenger trains; high speed (100 – 125 mph) overnight shared user freight trains catering for a range of consignments from a single parcel to a full carriage load. We are also developing the Metro Logistics model  to facilitate deliveries to city centres using the combination of local passenger trains and cycle logistics/electric vehicles plus of course the high speed international services.

Since our first movement of freight on passenger trains it is fair to say that there are very few types of consignment that haven’t been carried, but our success can probably be measured by our cracking of two very difficult and sensitive markets: chilled food and medical.

Using specialist equipment, we can carry chilled and frozen consignments. Our Bio FastTrack IT system uses the latest RFID technology to provide the chain of custody audit trail required for some of the most sensitive medical materials that are transported and access to specialist rail systems enables us to provide real time journey progress and information when delivery time certainty is paramount.

If you’re concerned about what’s coming over the hill and the impact it will have on your business: if your sustainability credentials are increasingly important to both you and your customers and you think rail can feature somewhere in your supply chain then we should talk.

We can help you by cutting through all the mystery and press inspired hysteria surrounding the railway industry and clearly demonstrate how it’s been a success for others: we can demonstrate and quantify how rail has cut emissions, journey times and costs and how services have yielded real socio-economic benefits.

We can work out exactly how rail can fit into your supply chain and we can bring you together with others of a like mind so that collective benefit is realised.

The future is Freight on Passenger Trains

InterCity Railfreight

Soon our major cities will be placing restrictions on diesel vehicles in an attempt to reduce pollution.

This is not a maybe scenario the government are committed to it.

We are your solution to the problem.

Why passenger trains

Trains run to a timetable and this enables us to plan the first and last mile to not only deliver better resource utilisation but also to fully utilise zero carbon transport such as cycle logistics and electric vehicles.

The shared user nature of the services enables customers to vary their commitment on a day by day basis.  The late departures enable manufacturers to enjoy a longer production day: early morning arrival sees consignments delivered well before the start of the working day.

Journey so far

  • 2018 – Innovate UK award to Intercity Railfreight and 42 Technology for delivery of a flexible space demonstration train
  • 2018 – discussions opened with Trans Pennine Express and Scotrail
  • 2017 – winner of Railway Industry Association award for service innovation
  • 2017 – winner of Railway Industry Association award for service innovation
  • 2017 – launch of home delivery seafood from Plymouth for Farmdrop
  • 2017 – launch of seafood service to high end London restaurants from Cornwall
  • 2015 – launch of West Country services with GWR and carriage of chilled food
  • 2014 – second high speed overnight freight trial into Euston
  • 2013 – first carriage of medical consignments
  • 2013 – successful trial of time/temperature sensitive retail outlet food
  • 2012 – first high speed overnight freight trial into Euston
  • 2011 – full launch with East Midlands Trains
  • 2010 – initial trials between Nottingham and London
  • 2010 – development of safety and security protocols
  • 2009 – conceptual discussions with East Midlands Trains

Proven

current

Retail & Food

A growing number of London restaurants is recognising the increased quality and value of seafood that was landed in Cornwall in the morning and delivered that afternoon. Sushi is one product that demands the highest levels of freshness and we have been successful in bringing together sustainable line caught fishing with the most demanding chefs using the GWR services between Penzance, Plymouth and London. Live shellfish have also featured in the portfolio of time/temperature sensitive products that have been successfully carried day in/day out.

Farmdrop’s ordering cycle presented a huge challenge to suppliers trying to get deliveries into London within 24 hours of orders being placed: using the trains from Plymouth the time elapsed from order cut-off to delivery into Farmdrop is now seven hours!

Bioscience

Two aspects dominate this sector: delivery failure simply isn’t an option and time is everything – pick it up in 30 minutes and get it there last week!

Our success in this sector has been measured in the dramatic reduction in time between drawing samples and results being notified to clinics – days down to hours! Making full use of the 125mph top end and service frequency has been the deciding factor in sending ultra-time sensitive and multi-temperature materials such as clinical trials by train. The number of diesel vans previously employed on this traffic has been reduced and significant emissions reduction achieved.

Our experience in this highly demanding sector has created a very finely-honed consignment control process where we are able to monitor every aspect of what is happening on the railway network and be planning well ahead in order to alleviate problems.

The ICRF Bio FastTrack chain of custody system has been designed specifically for the carriage of all types of medical consignment by train.

125 MPH

travel at up to 125 mph

24 hours

leave several times an hour

Pollution

The least polluting of all forms of transport

Security

secure compartments for those parcels.

Using Intercity Railfreight

percent time saving compared to some road movements
percent average train operator timekeeping performance
Percent cost savings

Get out of your

Comfort Zone

Keep in Touch!

St Pancras International

Office: 0845 125 9659
Mobile: 07799 410050

PressOffice@InterCityRailFreight.com

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