GB Railfreight

The Background

With multiple sites across the UK, a reliable communications system is vital to the smooth-running of GB Railfreight’s business. Elite supplied GB Railfreight with a high capacity MPLS network and a Swyx unified comms solution that immediately cut its telecoms costs in half.

Swyx is a Voice over Internet Protocol system (VOIP), which means that your voice system is placed over a data connection. This benefits most businesses due to the time and investment that can be spent managing one connection, instead of multiple separate voice and data networks. Despite what some businesses may presume about VoIP, VoIP has now become a highly resilient voice solution, to levels not previously seen before in traditional communications.

Established in 1999, GB Railfreight, part of the EuroTunnel Group, specialises in hauling rail freight for a range of customers throughout the UK. Employing over 400 staff across its multiple UK sites and projected to attain revenues of £100m over the next few years, the company’s approach to business is simple: it works closely with its customers in order to provide a cost effective service that delivers their traffic to where they want, when they want, time after time.

The Challenge

With 200 train crews calling the freight control centre every day, where exceptional call volumes relating to over 600 train movements per week are also handled, a resilient and reliable communications system was of paramount importance to GB Railfreight.

As a company whose success is heavily reliant on effective, on-going, 24 hour communication, GB Railfreight needed a solution that was not only cost-effective in terms of maintenance but could also handle unprecedented high influxes of calls across multiple sites at high speed.

George Ford, IT Manager at GB Railfreight, says: “A big part of the company’s success has been down to its people and how effectively they communicate on a daily basis. This is why our communications system is so vital to the smooth-running of our business.” “In order to operate we need a licence from the rail regulator, but in order to prepare a safety case, we needed to prove that the communications system for our Freight Control Centre was sufficiently robust. With over 200 train crews calling in every day this was becoming more difficult to do with our old system which was failing more regularly and was also difficult and expensive to support.”

GB Railfreight summed up their key challenges as the following:

• To be able to operate, GB RailFreight is required to have a ‘safety case’ that must be approved by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). If the communications system becomes unreliable, GB Railfreight may be in danger of losing this and the ORR can stop the company from operating.

• More than 200 crew members need to be able to call the freight control centre every day in order to ‘clock-in’, as well as the need to call in to report any issues/delays.

• The control centre needs to be able to react quickly to any delays, incidents and issues by getting in touch with staff, relevant customers and Network Rail as appropriate. And, with over 600 train movements each week, the volume of these calls can be substantial.

• The ability to record all calls that can be retrieved easily at a later date is necessary: proof of calls allows GB Railfreight to work closely with Network Rail to deal with incident investigation, challenge potential costs and ensure best working practice.

• The communications system must be able to support incoming calls to the control centre 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Solution

GB Railfreight upgraded its existing system to a highly resilient MPLS network, with fibre connections to each of its sites and replaced traditional telephony with a software-based, unified communications solution from Swyx.

After installing the MPLS network, Elite Telecom introduced Swyx’s software-based unified communications system SwyxWare at the company’s main site in Artillery Lane, London and the central Freight Control Centre in Peterborough.

The Result

Not only did GB Railfreight cut its telecoms costs in half immediately, they also benefited from the following long term results:

Better time management through the automated clocking in facility

Swyx is SQL based and was fully integrated with an Excel timesheet which can be automatically populated with clocking-in times of individual drivers. Swyx is SQL based and was fully integrated with an Excel timesheet which can be automatically populated with clocking-in times of individual drivers.

Improved Customer Service

The freight control centre can provide a more responsive service due to enhanced call routing and call recording, and a clocking-in system that frees up available personnel to handle more critical calls.

Reduced salary costs
With more efficient call management, the need to employ additional freight controllers became obsolete.

The ability for home/flexible working

With a system that is accessible from any location, train crew had the option to be able to work from their home rather
than at a depot.

Creating efficiencies, the system enabled rail freight drivers to now ‘clock-in’ by simply calling an automated telephone line and entering a pin in order to confirm their start times.

Additionally, the call recording features of the SwyxWare software ensured compliance with railway regulations without the need for additional unnecessary call recording hardware.


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