Railfreight Sectors Launched 30 years ago today!!

Whilst watching the News yesterday and watching the story about the devistation caused by storm Ophelia it dawned on me that it has been 30 years since the Railfreight sub sectors had been launched.

Launched on the 17th October 1987 at the Ripple Lane Open Day. British Rail unveiled its new Railfreight Sectors. The event very nearly never happened thanks to the “Great Storm of 1987”. The hard work and dedication of the local staff ensured that the event did take place.

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The new sectors very striking and forceful made the mundane BR Blue and Railfreight Grey and Red Strip before it look very beige……. That is my view on it as seeing shiny class 37s and 47s and 56s in the new paintwork looked amazing even with dirty and weathered wagons behind them!

Each of the new sectors of Railfreight had its own head quarters its own allocation of staff, its own allocation of locomtoives and wagons and depots both for train crew and its locomotive fleet. More importantly each sector had responsibility over its own budget and along with its own set of targets to achieve. The ruling government a target that each sector needed to make a 8% profit on the flows that they operated.

When launched the sectors where as follows:

Railfreight General

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This sector was the sector for anything that didn’t fit into the other sub sectors that involved bulk movement. Railfreight General handled the “Speedlink” wagon load traffic and one off special moves and such like. This sector only lasted till 1989 when it was absorbed into the Railfrreight Distribution portfolio.

Railfreight Petroleum 

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This sector was responsible for the movement of Oil and some Chemical flows. Its main areas of operation was the in Essex moving vast tonnage from Oil Refineries at Thames Haven & Coryton, South Wales concentrating around Milford Haven and Robestone Oil Refineries, North West England moving traffic from Stanlow Oil Refinery, South Humberside moving vast tonnages from the two refineries at Lindsey and Humber along with other oil based products from the various tank farms and processing plants. Teesside with vast tonnages being moved from Haverton Hill and Seal Sands and North of the Boarder with vast tonnages from Grangemouth Oil Refinery. On top these flow Railfreight Petroleum moved healthy flows of crude oil around Hampshire and various types of Gasses from North Lincolnshire, Essex and South Wales and Hampshire.

Railfreight Coal 

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Railfreight Coal was by the biggest of the railfreight sectors it had the biggest locomotive fleet, largest fleet of wagons and largest amount of staff. Railfreight Coal moved a staggering 91 million tonnes of coal per year when the Railfreight Sectors came into force. The sector delivered coal from Collieries to Power Stations and to Coking plants. It moved smokeless fuels and it also had its own wagon load network for delivering coal for domestic and industrial use. The sector was also responsible for movement of Nuclear waste traffic from various sites in the UK to Sellafield for reprocessing.

Railfreight Metals and Automotive’s

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This sector was responsible for movement of all steel traffic within the UK. The sector was responsble for the movement of the raw products such as Iron Ore and Limestone and Coal. As well the finished and semi finished products through the UK. Its heavist areas of operations was in South Wales, The West Midlands, South Yorkshire, Northern Lincolnshire, Teesside and the Central Belt of Scotland. The sector also had the movement of components for the Automotive industry as well as finished Automotive’s the movement of Automotives was soon moved to Railfreight Distributions portfolio in 1989 when it also absorbed the Railfreight General Sector.

Railfreight Distribution

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This was the second biggest sector and from 1989 its Portfolio boasted traffic from single wagon loads of traffic through to sleek containerized goods and traffic going to and from mainland Europe. Railfreight Distribution area of operation really was UK wide and it boasted the most diverse fleet of locomotives out all the Railfreight Sectors.

Railfreight Construction

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The Construction Sector was responsible for moving raw materials from quarries to distribution centers block trainloads of Lime Stone, Granite, Sand and Shale was the main products moved. Railfreight Constructions main areas that generated vast tonnages was from the Mendip quarries at Merehead and Whatley, The Leicester area quarries and quarries found in the Derbyshire Peak District. The sector also moved products such as Cement and Bricks and gypsum. It also had the task of moving household waste from Inner city areas to Landfill sites the majority of witch had been quarries or clay pits before they had been worked out.



4 thoughts on “Railfreight Sectors Launched 30 years ago today!!

  1. Pingback: Rail Express Modeller – Sub-Sector Celebration | West Halton Sidings

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