A direct solution
Operating within both the nuclear and rail industries, Direct Rail Services has established a proven reputation in dealing with critical applications

With a history dating back over more than two decades, Direct Rail Services (DRS) was founded by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. during 1995 in the wake of the privatisation of the UK rail industry. The original remit of the company was to provide a strategic capability for the movement of spent nuclear fuel from both UK and overseas reactors to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant. “Having successfully developed a national capability for the transport of spent nuclear material DRS began to develop its presence across new markets where critical and bespoke rail transport solutions were required,” explains Managing Director, Debbie Francis. “The company today employs more than 400 skilled personnel and achieves a turnover in excess of £70 million.”

Direct Rail Services today continues to provide services within a broad range of premium markets, while maintaining a core focus on the needs of its parent company in the execution of nuclear decommissioning programmes. Indeed, the firm presently delivers effective services across four key markets, which are comprised of operations relating to nuclear, domestic intermodal, Network Rail and passenger train operating company (TOC) support. In addition to these dedicated services DRS has a strong presence across several major Cumbrian coast construction projects, while further delivering full train operations, resource hire, maintenance, training and consultancy services.

DRS 141 bTo successfully deliver its extensive suite of complex rail services, DRS currently maintains four major maintenance facilities that are located within Motherwell, Carlisle, Crewe and Sellafield. The company’s 400+ members of staff include as many as 180 train drivers and a further 80 professional fitters. The company manages ten crew depots across the UK that gives DRS full national coverage and the ability to quickly respond to the needs of its clients. This national network is further backed by an in-house series of nine railheads with dedicated lifting capabilities and two fully equipped marshalling yards.

The company has recently also taken delivery of the first of ten brand new dual mode Class 88 locomotives (C88), which are being delivered by Stadler and will enable DRS to strengthen its presence within the UK rail market. “The C88 is a further development of the C68 platform that was introduced into the UK during 2014. The C88 represents a state-of-the-art locomotive that is designed to deliver the ultimate level of flexibility when operating within either the passenger or freight environments. The vehicle’s applications are therefore many and varied and it is our intention to deploy the C88 across our premium nuclear services and/or the company’s Tesco West Coast Main Line (WCML) operations initially,” Debbie reveals. “The C88 is a true ‘dual mode’ locomotive that combines both 25kv electric and diesel electronic operating modes. A further development that builds on the previous C68 platform is that C88 is another technical innovation from DRS that provides superior traction equipment to UK rail operations. The first opportunity for the public to be up close with the new locomotive will be at the DRS charity open day at Kingmoor, which will be held in Carlisle on July 22nd 2017.”

Further to the continued development of its national presence, rail technology and rolling stock, DRS embodies several operational strengths that set the business apart as a leading provider of reliable solutions to both the rail and nuclear industries. “Direct Rail Services has developed an industry-leading reputation for providing safe, secure, reliable and cost-effective services within both nuclear and non-nuclear related markets,” Debbie elaborates. “The company received the Golden Whistle Award for the fourth time running in January 2017 and was subsequently declared to be ‘The Best Performing Rail Freight Operator.’ The annual event celebrates operational excellence across the rail industry and the Golden Whistle is awarded in response to consistent arrival times at destinations over the course of 12 months. Direct Rail Services was acknowledged to be more reliable than any of the company’s competitors and the award further recognises the hard work and dedication of the entire DRS workforce. This includes the vital roles that are played in ensuring that our services arrive at the intended destination on time, as well as the company’s continued investment into the reliability of the DRS fleet of locomotives and further assets.”

Debbie commenced her role as Managing Director of DRS on 4th July 2016 and has been quick to recognise the strengths of the business, as well as to implement a dedicated vison for further growing and refining the company during the coming months and years. “Direct Rail Services is a great company that has grown significantly in recent years. One of the first things that I experienced on my arrival was our open day event, which was held in Crewe during 2016. It was a huge event and it was clear from the people that I met on the day that DRS has maintained a fantastic relationship with stakeholders across the rail industry,” Debbie concludes. “My vision for the business remains what it always has been for DRS – to be a safe, secure and reliable provider for the movement of spent nuclear fuel across the UK. We have developed a 20-year strategy since my arrival that very much focuses the business back on its core mission. Over the next 12 months the business will be working to getting the most out of its new assets, helping to develop our people to secure the future sustainability of the business and on ensuring that our parent company and customers can rely on us to deliver a first-class service.”