InterCity Rail Freight (ICRF) informed WorldCargo News about this (then forthcoming) development in the context of our preparation for an article on urban freight and rail, which was published in our October 2015 edition (pp35-36).
ICRF now says that the consignment of Cornish-landed fish, live lobster and crab was loaded on the 10:00 GWR high speed train departure from Penzance to Paddington. The train covered the 306 miles in 5h.25mins, arriving at Paddington station within 5mins of schedule.
The first consignment was unloaded from the train by West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas, with ICRF’s local delivery partner WEGO Couriers then using cargo bikes and electric vehicles to deliver the fresh seafood to several top London restaurants.
Speaking at the launch of the new service, Jeff Screeton, MD of ICRF, noted: “InterCity RailFreight has gone ‘back to the future’, providing a 21st-Century logistics solution for time-sensitive fresh produce and e-commerce deliveries, which draws on long-lost practice established in the 19th and 20th Centuries – using spare space on passenger trains - to achieve a high-speed, high-frequency, low-carbon delivery service, capable of delivering direct into the heart of towns and cities."
As reported in our October article, the start of services with GWR into London’s Paddington station builds on ICRF's (formerly known as 5PL) four years of experience with East Midlands Trains to and from St Pancras International, moving some of the most time-sensitive products, such as blood supplies and medical samples.
The GWR launch, says ICRF, demonstrates the untapped potential of rail for high-speed movement of freight to and from our major cities, and will also help Cornwall’s fishing industry and other local producers achieve a fast, green route to market for fresh produce.
"The success of the shipment reflects months of hard work by all those involved, including GWR, Network Rail and WEGO Couriers, to whom we’re indebted," said Screeton. "We can now look forward to developing these services across the GWR network, offering business – big and small – a new way of moving freight, and helping improve deliveries and emissions within congested city centres.”
ICRF plans to expand services across other passenger train networks, as well as developing dedicated trainload services for moving larger volumes of freight at high speed, drawing on overnight trials [by TNT] into London Euston station in 2012 and 2014.