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HS2 unveils the ‘beating heart of HS2 in London’ at its London logistics hub

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HS2 unveils the ‘beating heart of HS2 in London’ at its London logistics hub. Image: HS2
HS2 unveils the ‘beating heart of HS2 in London’ at its London logistics hub. Image: HS2
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HS2 has revealed the colossal logistics operation that is taking place at HS2’s logistics hub near Willesden Junction. The 30-acre site will be the beating heart of the logistics operation for HS2 in London, and will be where earth from the 26 miles of tunnel will be processed and critical construction materials, such as pre-cast tunnel segment rings, will be delivered. The hub has been constructed and will be operated by HS2’s Main Works Civils Contractor, Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture.

The construction of HS2’s London tunnels will require 5.6million tonnes of earth to be excavated. After being processed at the site near Willesden Junction, it will be taken by train to three locations across the UK – Barrington in Cambridgeshire, Cliffe in Kent, and Rugby in Warwickshire – where it will put to beneficial reuse, filling voids which will then be used as a basis for redevelopment, such as house building.

The site will also receive over 100,000 pre-cast tunnel segment rings which will be used to form the walls of the London tunnels, delivered by rail from UK manufacturing sites. HS2’s contractor SCS JV has already confirmed that the first contract for pre-cast tunnel segment rings has been awarded to Pacadar UK, and will be delivered to the site from their factory in the Isle of Grain in Kent.

At peak operation, eight trains per day will depart and arrive at the logistics hub, maximising the use of rail freight in the construction of HS2 in London and resulting in one million lorry movements not going on UK roads.

Speaking at the opening of HS2’s Logistics Hub, HS2’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Thurston said: “In building Britain’s new high-speed railway, HS2 is committed to protecting the environment and minimising our carbon footprint during design, construction and operation. As a result, we are moving as much material as we can by rail as part of our Materials by Rail programme. The logistics hub at Willesden will be the beating heart of our London logistics operation and is a critical part of how we are building HS2.”

The operation is being coordinated from a refurbished building on the site. Sheffield based SME, 3Squared, has developed a bespoke rail logistics software solution to manage and track the railway materials movements in and out.

Speaking about the scale of the operation, Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture Managing Director, James Richardson, said: “The logistics hub is central to the London Tunnels programme. Collaborating with other partners delivering HS2, we will remove 5.6million tonnes of spoil by rail and bringing in our tunnel segments, taking one million lorry journeys off the road. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and by using rail we will reduce our carbon emissions for logistics by 40%.”

Tim Jones, Managing Director of 3Squared, said: “It is fantastic to see the hard work and effort coming to fruition in this large-scale logistics operation, which will radically improve efficiencies and operations across the wider UK transport network. Joining the HS2 project has marked an exciting chapter in 3Squared’s journey, and we look forward to continuing to work with SCS JV and providing our technological skill and expertise, as HS2 progresses.”

The London Logistics Hub sits on the old Freightliner Terminal site that first opened in 1967. It went on to become one of nine regional freight terminals developed specifically to handle Channel Tunnel intermodal traffic but eventually went into disuse in 2005. The site’s connections to the conventional railway make it an ideal location to coordinate HS2’s London logistics operation.

The logistics trains are currently operated by GB Railfreight and the entire operation is the result of meticulous planning between HS2, Network Rail, SCS JV and HS2’s supply chain. The first train departed the site at the end of June, taking 1,470 tonnes of spoil to Barrington in Cambridgeshire.

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight said: “Today’s opening marks a huge commitment to reducing the impact of carbon emissions caused by construction and we’re proud to jointly recognise this with HS2 by unveiling the fittingly rebranded Class 66, ‘The Green Progressor’. HS2 Willesden’s logistics hub promises to support the growth of rail freight in the UK by removing one million HGVs from our capital’s roads alone. By increasing the amount of material transported by rail freight for the construction of HS2 in London, GBRf will continue to play a leading role in the delivery of Government’s net zero targets and the decarbonisation of transport.”

Nick Coles, Programme Manager, Network Rail, said: “We’ve been working with HS2 and its supply chain on their plans to move excavated materials by rail from the Willesden logistics hub. Timetable, operations and infrastructure preparations have long been in the making and it is a credit to all parties involved that freight services have started life so smoothly. Today, the UK railway network is supporting approximately 60 rail freight services a week for HS2 and we’ll continue to work closely with its industry partners to make as many carbon savings as possible.”

At an event to open the logistics hub, a Class 66 locomotive was revealed, number 66796, which has been rebranded by GB Railfreight with a HS2 design. The HS2 locomotive was named ‘The Green Progressor’ by 15 year old HS2 enthusiast, Jermaine from Leeds.

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Logistics & Supply Chain

FedEx and Aurora expand autonomous commercial linehaul trucking pilot in Texas ahead of schedule

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FedEx and Aurora expand autonomous commercial linehaul trucking pilot in Texas ahead of schedule. Image: FedEx
FedEx and Aurora expand autonomous commercial linehaul trucking pilot in Texas ahead of schedule. Image: FedEx
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Aurora Innovation, Inc. and FedEx Corp. announced the expansion of their pilot program to autonomously move FedEx shipments on an additional commercial lane in Texas.

In March 2022, Aurora’s next-generation autonomous trucks – based on the new Peterbilt 579 – began to transport FedEx shipments between Aurora’s new terminals in Fort Worth and El Paso. Aurora is making the 600-mile trip on a weekly basis with safety drivers on board and expects to increase the frequency of trips in the coming months. Aurora continues to move shipments for FedEx between Aurora’s South Dallas terminal and its new Houston terminal on a daily basis.

Progress and momentum: FedEx and Aurora pilot snapshot

  • Since the commercial pilot began in September 2021, Aurora’s deliveries of FedEx shipments between Dallas and Houston have been 100% on time.
  • With each trip, the Aurora Driver (Aurora’s self-driving technology product) is providing thousands of FedEx customers with packages that were autonomously transported.
  • Aurora moves trailers for FedEx during various weather conditions and all hours of the day and night, optimizing fleet utilization.
  • Aurora completed daily hauls during the 2021 peak Holiday season, the busiest time of year for FedEx.
  • To date, the companies have completed 60,000 miles with zero safety incidents.

Aurora’s performance throughout this pilot demonstrates the value proposition autonomous trucking offers for transportation and logistics providers as Aurora works toward the commercial launch of its autonomous trucks. In light of the headwinds facing the logistics industry – ranging from increasing demand for the quick transportation of shipments to a challenging labor market – the Aurora Driver, when integrated into existing linehaul operations, has potential to provide a reliable, efficient linehaul solution to help address such industry concerns.

“Innovation is in our DNA – our culture drives us to think radically and differently, finding new ways to use technology to enhance safety, improve our operations, empower our team members and help our customers succeed,” said Rebecca Yeung, Corporate Vice President, Operations Science & Advanced Technology, FedEx Corporation. “Aurora has been a like-minded collaborator, helping us learn from and grow our autonomous trucking solutions. We look forward to our continued work together as we test further integration of autonomous technology into our operations to build a collaborative, robust network of solutions to respond to growing customer demand.”

“Some time ago, I was asked why the general public should care about autonomous trucking. This is why. In six months of working with FedEx, we’ve safely, reliably, and efficiently transported packages for tens of thousands of FedEx customers,” said Sterling Anderson, Aurora Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer. “This lane expansion came ahead of schedule and we’re delighted to continue building the future of trucking with one of the country’s biggest and most important transportation companies.”

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Logistics & Supply Chain

DFDS acquires rail operator primeRail

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DFDS acquires rail operator primeRail. Image: DFDS
DFDS acquires rail operator primeRail. Image: DFDS
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DFDS & primeRail signed an agreement to become one company as DFDS acquires the German rail operator company. The acquisition strengthens DFDS’ rail offerings and is a testament to DFDS’ ambition to find sustainable ways to continue providing reliable and valuable services. The acquisition also marks the launch of a new Rail business area in DFDS.

primeRail operates continental and maritime transport logistics concepts in a combination of rail and road and was founded in 2019. In 2020, DFDS launched a new “Intermodal Transport Competence Center” in Cologne, in partnership with primeRail, to provide intermodal solutions for DFDS customers.

The acquisition is an important step to realizing our large ambitions within intermodality by combining ferry and rail transportation. Peder Gellert Pedersen, Executive Vice President and Head of Ferry Division at DFDS, says:

“For DFDS, this is an important strategic step. We have been looking for the right partners with the same value set and commercial orientation as DFDS. primerRail fulfills this, and it is, therefore, a perfect match. We connect our ports by rail to inland terminals. Thereby offering a smooth and environment-friendly transport network to the benefit of our customers and society.”

New DFDS Business Unit Rail

primeRail will operate as a new business area Rail in DFDS covering primeRail and the existing DFDS intermodal business. The Rail business area is organised within the Mediterranean business unit and headed by Patrick Zilles, currently CEO of primeRail. As Vice President and Head of Rail, Patrick Zilles reports to Head of Mediterranean, Lars Hoffmann, who says:

“Since we acquired our Turkish route network in mid-2018, we have learned how much value train solutions can add to our business model and network. We extend our network, and with the increasing focus on green solutions, it’s a natural step to develop our train set-up further. We have since 2018 doubled our number of weekly trains; it is, therefore, natural to take the next step. We see an increasing demand for rail transport combined with our ferry routes and logistics services. Partnering with primeRail allows us to offer additional intermodal solutions. Customers can drop off units at our terminals in Turkey and pick them up in Europe very close to the end destinations.”

Founder and CEO of primeRail Patrick Zilles stated: “I am proud that after successful cooperation with DFDS, primeRail will now become an important part of one of the leading ferry networks in Europe. primeRail will be integrated into DFDS, maximising mobility with cost-effective and innovative intermodal transport solutions.”

The complete integration of primeRail into DFDS is expected to be completed within the year.

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Logistics & Supply Chain

G&S Logistics deploys digital freight brokerage solution from Descartes

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G&S Logistics deploys digital freight brokerage solution from Descartes. Image: Pexels
G&S Logistics deploys digital freight brokerage solution from Descartes. Image: Pexels
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Descartes Systems Group, the global leader in uniting logistics-intensive businesses in commerce, announced that Minnesota-based G&S Logistics is digitizing its freight brokerage operations to support aggressive growth plans with the integrated deployment of the cloud-based Descartes Aljex transportation management system and Descartes MacroPoint for real-time freight visibility and load tracking.

“With aggressive growth targets, we knew automation would be required as we open and staff additional offices and onboard new carriers,” said Angelo Byrd, COO/EVP at G&S Logistics. “The online and real-time Descartes Aljex dashboards will be especially valuable as they give us direct insights into operational nuances and carrier performance to help us continually evaluate the best transportation options for our customers.”

Descartes Aljex, a cloud-based solution for freight brokers, provides end-to-end capabilities that enable companies to deliver better customer service, enhance operational performance and maximize margin. The Descartes Aljex TMS automates and streamlines daily freight broker activities to boost operational efficiency, including order entry, lane rate comparison, covering loads, rate confirmation, carrier acceptance, dispatching and carrier communications. It allows brokerages of all sizes to securely access freight and transportation management data from anywhere.

The integration of Descartes Aljex with Descartes MacroPoint provides access to real-time load tracking capabilities, which not only reduces time-consuming communication like check calls and emails, but also helps brokers forecast future needs to mitigate any potential transportation risk or disruption.

“We’re pleased to help G&S Logistics modernize its brokerage operations to scale for future growth,” said Dan Cicerchi, General Manager, Transportation Management at Descartes. “As the transportation industry continues to grapple with numerous challenges, such as capacity constraints, resource shortages and supply chain disruptions, Descartes’ solutions allow freight brokers to operate at higher levels of efficiency, communicate more collaboratively with customers, and connect more easily with carrier partners.

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