The UK’s first electric-only rail freight operator has started moving parcels between Scotland and the Midlands.
Varamis Rail is using fully electric former passenger trains converted to carry freight in response to the growing demand for next day deliveries of goods bought online.
The majority of freight trains on Britain’s railways are powered by diesel, with an average speed of around 24mph.
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Varamis Rail said its trains can reach 100mph, with journeys between Mossend freight terminal, near Glasgow and Birmingham International scheduled to take just under five hours.
The company’s website urges businesses needing parcels moved to “use high-speed rail as a reliable, zero-emission differentiator for a sustainable supply chain”.
Trial operations took place in October 2022, with regular overnight services starting last week.
Network Rail worked with the operator to ensure it has access to the necessary railway lines for the journeys.
Varamis Rail managing director Phil Read said: “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.”
Network Rail’s senior commercial and customer relationship manager Georgie Newby said: “I’m delighted that we’ve 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.
“We look forward to delivering other innovations to keep growing the amount of parcel logistics transported by rail.”