Some UK Rail News as Southampton Gets Longer Trains Whilst Outgoing Rail Freight Boss Gets His Own!

Tony Berkeley Has a Locomotive Named After Him on Retirement

Shipping News Feature
UK – The outgoing Chairman of the Rail Freight Group (RFG), Lord Tony Berkeley, was honoured this week in the most suitable manner for a man who has been at the top of his game, and his organisation, for over two decades. Having held the position of Opposition Spokesperson for Transport 1996–97 and Opposition Whip 1996–97 Tony Berkeley OBE took the Chair at the RFG in 1997 and is also a board member of the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA). The GB Railfreight Class 66 engine is liveried in RFG colours and the occasion was honoured at London’s Victoria station.

Tony Berkeley, who retires later this year, saw many RFG members and invited special guests come together on June 27 to celebrate the career and huge contribution he has made to his chosen industry. The new train departed London Victoria on a round trip tour of the Kent countryside and coastline, basking in the summer sunshine, before returning to London for a drinks reception.

Guests came from right across the sector. They were welcomed at the Belmond Lounge, London Victoria, where GBRf MD John Smith and RFG Executive Director Maggie Simpson paid tribute to Lord Berkeley’s career. They applauded his tireless work to enhance and support open access, modal shift and the future growth of rail freight by consistently pressing the case both within Westminster and among UK businesses. Maggie Simpson said:

“Tony Berkeley leaves the sector wholly transformed from the one he joined some 21 years ago. His leadership, commitment and sheer determination have been instrumental in delivering that progress. I know I can speak for all RFG members, both past and present, in thanking him for all he has done and wishing him a very happy and well-deserved retirement.”

Tony thanked everyone for their support and said he was genuinely surprised and delighted to have a locomotive named in his honour and was grateful for so many people turning out to mark the occasion. He also took the opportunity to pay tribute to industry stalwart and former RFG Board member Jim Clark, head of rail at W.H Malcolm, who sadly passed away recently.

Meanwhile the news that planning permission at Redbridge, Southampton has been granted to develop sidings to allow for longer freight trains. The freight sidings will enable longer trains of 775 metres, up from the current 520 metres and the news was welcomed by the Campaign for Better Transport which pointed out that the existing 20 daily consumer freight trains in and out of Southampton, which already remove around 1,600 HGVs per day, will be capable of removing an additional 728 HGVs each day. Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager, Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“In the week that Southampton Council announced plans for a Clean Air Zone in the city, re-opening these rail lines (sidings) and unlocking a pinch-point on the railway, is significant as it will reduce local air pollution and road congestion. Rail freight produces 90% less PM10 particulates and up to 15 times less nitrogen dioxide emissions than HGVs for the equivalent journey.

“The longer trains can remove an extra 200,000 HGVs each year from local roads and the whole A34 corridor to the Midlands and the North. Furthermore, it will improve road safety as Government figures show that HGVs are almost seven times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than cars on local roads.”

Photo: Tony Berkeley with the new loco named in his honour.

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