Unlike the other four sectors, RFD was not dedicated to bulk or ‘Trainload’ haulage. Rfd’s fleet included diesels and electrics for the diverse Speedlink wagonload and Freightliner intermodal networks which covered much of the country. In late 1988, the fleet comprised 101 Class 47s, 34 Class 37s and 29 Class 31s, the majority of which were based at Tinsley depot in Sheffield. This fleet covered RFD trains ranging across the network from Inverness to Dover, conveying anything from mineral water to ammunition and armoured vehicles for the Ministry of Defence. For a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, RFD employed slimline Class 33/2s to shunt the Dover train ferry (international wagonload freight also came under its remit), repainted in the sector’s colours.
Cornish china clay traffic was also part of Rfd’s operation, with St Blazey’s 37673 being one of the first locomotives to be
given the new livery in October 1987. Seven Class 37/5s were allocated to Plymouth Laira for this traffic, supported from 1991 by Class 37/4s. Class 86/6s and Class 90s were largely employed on West Coast Main Line container services (and also via the North London Line to Ipswich). To reflect increasing focus on international freight with the opening of the Channel Tunnel, RFD introduced a modified livery known as ‘RFD European’ in 1993, retaining the sector symbols but featuring a deeper dark grey band and a dark blue roof. This livery was applied mainly to Class 47s, but also to a few Class 08s, 86s and 90s. In the run-up to privatisation, the wagonload and Freightliner intermodal arms of RFD were separated, and the fleet split. Freightliner retained the Railfreight grey livery until 1997, adding its own red logos and lettering in place of the sector symbols.
Class 90 90039 in original style Railfreight Distribution livery at Euston on May 12 1990. D. PYE/ COLOUR RAIL