Anyone who has tried to watch freight moving on UK rails in the last few years will realise these are challenging times for the rail freight industry. Stand by any railway line and you may have to wait a while to see a freight train of any sort pass by. Indeed, many large areas of our rail network see no regular freight traffic at all. Against a backdrop of declining volumes, the competition between the various freight companies has never been so acute. The `big five' freight haulage companies, DB Cargo, Freightliner, GB Railfreight, Direct Rail Services and Colas Rail, dominate the market. It is no surprise that all five companies include the ubiquitous Class 66 within their fleets, with over 300 examples of the class operating across the country. The observer could be forgiven for thinking that these are the only traction in use today. Of course they dominate the current UK freight scene but that is by no means the whole story. Numerous other classes of both diesel and electric locomotives contribute to the mix of rail freight traction on display in the UK today. Class 37 diesels and a reducing number of AC electric locomotives have notched up half a century of freight haulage. They can be seen today working alongside newer examples such as the Class 68 and 70 locomotives.
With an array of rare and unpublished images, John Jackson offers a fascinating overview of the freight scene today.
John Jackson, a lifelong transport enthusiast, opted for early retirement at the turn of the Millennium - and swapped the rat race for the rail tracks. Since then, he has travelled extensively on the British rail network with his camera as a constant companion. He continues to compile a photographic collection reflecting the UK rail industry that already extends to tens of thousands of images.