Freight company GB Railfreight has successfully trilled the use of class 319 trains commuter trains on express parcel services. The train was used by London Northern Western Railway until recently however it is now surplus to their requirements.
Standard roll cages could be successfully loaded and offloaded at most mainline stations including Euston where the trial service departed. GBRF also noted that with all the seats removed (at the time of the trail they was still in place) a significant volume of parcels could be carried.
The trial is the first successful trial of using a converted ex commuter EMU for parcel duties. GBRF is now in discussion with the government on how the 319 can be used to deliver supplies to UK hospitals.
This could also see the return of rail parcel delivery services to mainline stations which have not been seen for several years now. Currently, Royal Mail does operate parcel and mail trains. However, these only go from one Royal Mail terminal to the other with no stops at any stations.
John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight said:
“We are committed to continuing to help the UK get through this period by ensuring that vital supplies are delivered. Rail freight has the advantage in being able to efficiently move very large volumes of goods in a safe and reliable way.
“This successful trial shows how the railways can play their role in helping the speedy delivery of vital supplies and we are keen to be able to do our bit to help the NHS meet the logistical challenge of keeping our hospitals supplied during this period of huge demand.
“Post-crisis these services could play a role in reducing air pollution and carbon emissions associated with parcel deliveries. With deliveries being brought into the heart of cities by train overnight and last mile deliveries then undertaken by electric powered vehicles.”