BRITAIN’S largest freight operator DB Cargo has reached agreement with four trade unions regarding changes in the way it works going forward.
The agreements, which have been struck with ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and Unite, will enable DB to introduce what it calls its “future business model” on July 2.
Negotiations with the unions began in October 2016, when the company first announced that it would be making operational changes owing to a decline in coal freight ( RAIL 812).
It plans to introduce a new ‘hub’ structure to replace its current network of depots and locations, which it claims no longer match market and traffic requirements. Nineteen ‘hubs’ will be introduced.
DB has confirmed that 893 jobs will be lost under the reorganisation - almost a third of its 2,974-strong workforce. A spokesman for the company confirmed that staff have already begun leaving and more would go over the coming weeks. They said: “The majority of redundancies are on a voluntary basis, but regrettably there is a small proportion of compulsory redundancies.”
Hans-Georg Werner, Chief Executive of DB Cargo UK, said: “Under the pressures of the market we were able to find agreements acceptable to all parties and avoid industrial action. We regret that some colleagues will be leaving us, but treating our people fairly to secure a business that will be successful in the future has been at the heart of our discussions.
“We will now move forward with our plans to lead the next generation of rail freight, which includes key investments such as new wagons, terminal enhancements and combining our core function of delivering goods by rail with bespoke in-house IT solutions, to give our customers the best service and make it easy for them to do business with us.”
The company said that while coal freight declined, other markets including aggregates and steel remained buoyant. Figures released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) on February 23 ( RAIL 822) suggests that construction (aggregates) had risen 6.6% in terms of commodity moved, while metals (steel) had risen by the same figure.
However, ORR said DB’s fleet moved 3.86 million kilometres of traffic in 2016-2017 Q3 (OctoberDecember 2016), a reduction of 3.4% compared with the same period in 2015-16.
Werner added: “There is a strong future for rail freight in the UK because it offers benefits that its competitors - mainly road - cannot. It’s efficient, it’s quick and it removes congestion from our roads because a train can carry much more volume than a truck. We are making sure rail freight provides solutions for customers now and in the future.”
DB Cargo 66034 hauls a rail train from Truro to Eastleigh via Penzance on April 23, passing near Largin in the Glynn Valley (Cornwall). Almost a third of DB’s staff will leave the company by the start of July.
Richard Clinnick firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Editor