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Four awards in one week for Direct Rail Services; new service for Eddie Stobart

UK rail operator Direct Rail Services (DRS) scooped four awards in one week last week, with the last one being for its Class 88 locomotive being named as Train of the Year – freight/ mixed traffic at the National Rail Awards held in London. With over 1,200 attending, the event is one of the biggest events in the rail industry’s calendar. DRS is also the rail carrier for a new service from existing customer Eddie Stobart, between Tilbury and Daventry

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The Class 88 locomotive was described as a potential ‘game-changer’ in terms of electric freight train operation. Built by Stadler, this electric locomotive also boasts a powerful 750kW Caterpillar diesel engine, so it provides unrivalled flexibility allowing it to run on electrified and non-electrified parts of the rail network.


DRS, a subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, is using single Class 88 locomotives on its intermodal freight services that run daily between Daventry and Mossend. Class 88s have also been used to operate DRS’ nuclear flask services nationwide, using electric power on the West and East Coast Main lines and diesel power for long stretches of track that are not electrified.


The judges felt that the Class 88 has provided an excellent solution to efficient freight train operation into rail terminals. The ability to use metered electric power where available has also achieved considerable fuel cost savings.

Rail Freight Group awards night, 13th September
Rail Freight Group awards night, 13th September

This latest success comes hot on the heels of the Rail Freight Group Awards, where DRS received the ‘Business of the Year’ award. This accolade is presented to the company that the judges consider to be the overall best performing business in the rail freight sector.


Chris Connelly, Chief Operating Officer for DRS, said: “The DRS team is incredibly proud of the awards it has won over the past few days.


“The recognition is testament to what can be achieved through effective teamwork together with huge support from our customers and suppliers. I would like to give my personal thanks to everyone involved as we look forward to many more exciting times ahead.”


Judges said that DRS is a company that has shown excellence in several key areas this year and had “demonstrated a commitment to designing and implement exactly the right services for each customer, as well as introducing a very progressive staff development structure.” This had included giving office-based staff the chance to start a new career as train drivers.

DRS's Daventry-Mossend intermodal service for Eddie Stobart (for TESCO)
DRS's Daventry-Mossend intermodal service for Eddie Stobart (for TESCO)

They added: “Managing director, Debbie Francis, is at the forefront of championing the cause of rail freight in the wider business community and the role of women within the rail industry itself. The company shows an outstanding commitment to its customers, employees and the wider community.”


This was not the only award on the night, DRS worked with Eddie Stobart Limited, to introduce a seasonal train in just two weeks in October 2017 to win the Customer Care Award.


DRS is the rail haulier for a new container service being started up by Eddie Stobart, between the Port of Tilbury and Daventry, with onward steel wheel connection, where required, to Mossend. The service will run on a three pairs/week basis, initially for a four month trial. Stobart’s customers include Samskip and wine importer and logistics company J F Hillebrand.


Finall,y DRS was also runner up in RFG’s ‘Community and Environmental Responsibility’ award for its efforts with the annual charity open day, sponsorship and donations fund and volunteer work in the community.

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