Electric multiple unit glinting in the sunshine with train nameplate The Varamis Express

Varamis express logistics operator leaves passenger trains in their wake

UK start-up express logistics operator Varamis Rail has handed down a challenge to passenger operators on the UK’s West Coast Main Line. The company is currently operating five days a week on the Birmingham-Glasgow route and has put its early success down to three factors: speed, speed and speed. Their dedicated parcels and light logistics service is running overnight between the two cities, covering 325 miles (520 km) in under four hours. That’s faster than any currently scheduled passenger service between the two cities. “Beat that” is the message from owner and managing director Phil Read.

As a former express train driver himself, Varamis Rail founder Phil Read knows a thing or two about making the sparks fly when in the cab. So it should come as no surprise that his express logistics operation is burning up the tracks just as fast as possible. Given that the service operates out of Birmingham International, with a twenty-three minute minimum ‘check-in’, it’s even faster than a flight from the adjacent airport. As the company claims, that beats a jet aircraft on the route and makes their service faster than anything other than a rocket, and somewhat more environmentally friendly too.

Varamis focus for fast delivery

If they were given to bragging, Varamis Rail might well boast that their express logistics trains leave plodding passenger services in their dust. That would be stretching a point, but nevertheless, in a remarkable display of speed and efficiency, Varamis Rail has indeed been outpacing passenger services as they race their dedicated trains between Birmingham International and Mossend terminal in Bellshill, near Glasgow. With its non-stop express logistics trains, Varamis Rail has been breaking records and setting a whole new standard for swift transportation. It just so happens their trains are leased and carry the Swift livery too.

Rail brute loaded with parcels squeezed into train load space
Proof of the pudding is in the squeezing into the load space. Image: LinkedIn. © Varamis Rail.

While the comparable passenger services glide sedately along between Birmingham New Street and Glasgow Central, Varamis Rail thunders through, bringing forth an amusing comparison. The passenger services are obliged to make those inevitable stops, to pick up the odd passenger along the way. Varamis Rail focuses solely on delivering light logistics and premium parcels, from terminal to terminal, non-stop, allowing them to maintain an uninterrupted journey.

Throwing down the gauntlet

Just last month, on the 13 June, Varamis Rail achieved a corporate record, completing a northbound journey in a breathtaking 3 hours and 55 minutes. The entire nation wasn’t quite out to line the tracks and applaud the crew across their Scottish finishing line, but in their own Race to the North, Varamis laid down a gauntlet to the rest of the West Coast operators. Varamis do point out that gauntlets are not advised for their train crew – as stainless steel garments and 25kV power supplies tend to interface in a manner likely to light up the sky on their overnight run.

Just last week, on Friday 30th of June, Varamis Rail narrowly missed setting a new «company best,» with a still impressive time of 3 hours and 58 minutes. The founder and managing director of Varamis Rail, Phil Read, couldn’t help but express his delight at the speed of the service, while maintaining a lighthearted perspective on the comparison with scheduled passenger trains. «We’re absolutely thrilled with the incredible speed of our express logistics trains. We seem to be giving the passenger services a run for their money”, said a grinning Read on the platform at Birmingham International. “Who would’ve thought our non-stop freight trains could outpace the Pendolinos. It just goes to show that when it comes to logistics, we’re not the ones tilting at windmills.”

Opposition run to catch up

The repurposed electric multiple units operated by Varamis don’t tilt like the specially-designed Pendolino trains into the sharp corners of the West Coast Main Line, but the parcels aren’t complaining, and nor are the customers. Apart from their impressive speed, Varamis Rail has also managed to achieve exceptional loading on their cross-border service, with capacity at a premium in both directions. «Our express logistics trains have become a shining example of fast, reliable, and well-loaded transportation”, said Read. “We’ve worked hard to optimise our loading capacity, and it’s paying off. We’re promoting the service both northbound and southbound, and I’m really happy with how the loadings are developing. The enforced suspension during the remodelling of Carstairs Junction, just south of our Glasgow terminal has not held back customers from using our service, and we’re now able to offer an even quicker timing, thanks to the realignment at the junction.”

Head on view of Class 321 EMU ready to depart from platform at Birmingham International
At the helm. Hands on experience for Varamis owner Phil Read at the controls of the company’s groundbreaking class 321 EMU. Image: LinkedIn. © Varamis Rail.

Operating on the bustling West Coast Main Line, the busiest mixed-traffic route in Europe, Varamis Rail benefits from utilising overnight hours, taking advantage of available capacity and a clear run to achieve their Pendolino-beating times. “It may be the busiest route of its kind, but we’ve found capacity and its a niche that we can exploit to bring a new business sector to the railways”, said Read. “we’ve ambitions to expand and offer our service more widely. We’ve been promoting a return to the light logistics market for years, and it’s paying off for us. I’ve no doubt we’ll not be the only ones in future.”

That may be the case, but with Varamis Rail already showing a clean pair of heels on the tracks, their rivals will have to run to catch up if they’re going to take a tilt at their speedy records.

Autor/a Simon Walton

Fuente: RailFreight.com