At 01:00 this morning, a DB Schenker Class 92 freight locomotive quietly travelled up High Speed 1 (HS1) between Folkestone and Singlewell, returning at 02:15 .

This one small step represents a giant leap for cross-Channel rail freight, enabling for the first time the movement of full-size continental rail wagons and intermodal units between London and mainland Europe .

Intermodality has supported DB Schenker and logistics operator TDG as a partner in the EXCITE (European X-Channel Intermodal Transport Enhancement) project, which has been supported by the European Commission’s Marco Polo programme.

The aims of the project have been to test the capabilities of high-speed railways such as HS1 to carry freight as well as passenger traffic. Working with HS1, DB Schenker has now successfully upgraded the on-board signalling systems on the Class 92 freight locomotives to enable operation on HS1 as well as Network Rail and Eurotunnel.

Intermodality co-ordinated the initial successful Marco Polo grant application and has provided support to the project partners over the last 5 years, as well as assisting HS1 develop its own access strategy for rail freight traffic.

The EXCITE project will conclude later this year with the start of commercial rail freight services operating on HS1 at night.