By Nick Gallop, Business Development, Intercity Freight
Responding to unprecedented growth, low-carbon high-speed logistics operator has announced a major expansion of its same-day 125mph delivery network.
After a decade of success with time-sensitive transport of ambient and temperature-controlled traffic, and the recent achievement of ISO9001 certification, ICRF has secured agreement from UK train operating companies to significantly expand capacity and reach.
ICRF now has access to over 100 x 125mph daily rail services across the East Midlands, Great Western and CrossCountry franchise networks, providing fast and frequent services between city centres, across an area from Aberdeen to London and Penzance – covering a number of traditionally difficult parts of the country for road-based couriers to reach.
InterCity’s door-to-door service seamlessly connects local couriers using electric vehicles and cargo bikes with a fleet of electric and diesel-electric high-speed trains – with some routes now offering a 100% electric supply chain. Shipments are tracked in real time from a central control tower with access to a suite of rail industry data feeds. The rail services average 70mph between city centres, with over 97% arriving within 15 minutes of schedule.
Services have been proved in the most demanding of operating conditions, carrying a wide range of goods, from life-saving medical samples and treatments, to fresh and live seafood. The innovation secured a national rail industry award in 2017 for the first-to-market service.
The integrated offer of fast and frequent rail services, combined with low-emission local couriers, can transform same-day and next-day fulfilment services, allowing for a rapid on-demand “click, pick, pack and ship” model, replacing the current practice of “buffering” shipments into larger overnight trunk loads and the struggle with meeting delivery schedules.
Speaking about the latest developments, founder and Managing Director Jeff Screeton said: “One of the few positive outcomes of the recent pandemic has been the opening up of the rail network for fast and frequent delivery services, with train operators now able to accept anything from single shipments up to entire lorry-loads. In our ten years of operations we have never experienced traffic growth on this scale, and with the help of our train operator and courier partners, we are responding in kind to our expanding customer base.
“In 2016 the Rail Minster threw down the gauntlet to the freight industry, stating that: One of the greatest challenges of our age is the emission of particulate matter from vehicles. This is not just a problem for future generations or far-away places. Particulates are here now, on our streets, already shortening lives. And one of the key contributors is road freight and the need to bring goods from out-of-town distribution centres into city centres.
Yet our rail lines already reach into stations located in the heart of the city. Imagine if we could run electric freight trains into stations outside peak hours. Or run passenger trains that can be partly converted to carry freight. Goods could be offloaded onto electric vehicles, for distribution across the city. Let’s set ourselves the challenge of investing in new freight technology and joined up logistics.
We have accepted that challenge and delivered a truly joined-up logistics service. With the support of a growing network of passenger and freight train operating companies, and the continued encouragement from the Department for Transport, we are now going further.
Having proved the ability to carry the most time-critical shipments faster, more reliably, more sustainably – and at lower cost – than competing road-based couriers, we are now extending the service offer, working with healthcare providers, leading retailers and carriers.” •