TOPS is the ‘complete TMS’ says GB Railfreight

TOPS is the ‘complete TMS’ says GB Railfreight

1.6.2021 | Rail

TOPS is the ‘complete TMS’ says GB Railfreight

Fargo Systems’ TOPS enables GBRf’s intermodal activities to operate seamlessly.

The complete transport software solution once again demonstrates the pivotal role it plays throughout the logistics industry – this time enabling GB Railfreight’s (GBRf) intermodal activities to operate seamlessly.

Playing an integral role in GBRf’s complete rail TMS (Transport Management System), all intermodal movements are planned and managed through Fargo’s TOPS.

Jim Slade, Project Team Manager at Fargo Systems, says: “We’ve been partnering with GBRf since 2005. With a commitment to TOPS that has seen their usage grow six-fold over the years, they are now processing over 100,000 EDI messages per month. This February alone, MSC sent over 98,000 messages, all of which were processed by TOPS, saving hundreds of hours of manual data input.”

Growing from an initial four TOPS users to today’s 24 concurrent user licences, the benefits of Fargo’s technology are evident across GBRf’s operations – from maintaining schedules, precision planning wagons each schedule, right through to the stevedores loading and unloading the trains.

‘Box to bay’ planning is a crucial requirement of GBRf. As Jim says: “TOPS is used throughout this operation – from loading each container to the correct wagon, to planning each specific platform and pin. It also integrates with other third parties in the industry who receive updates and instructions for loading and unloading wagons as per the transport plan stored.”

Notably, ‘box to bay’ plans are also imported to TOPS, key for inland container depot operators. The container depot completes the ‘box to bay’ process, yet GBRf still needs to hold it in TOPS to pass it to the destination port again via EDI and validate it against their safety loading guidelines.

Intermodal General Manager of GBRf, Julie Garn, continues: “For us, TOPS is the complete TMS. It holds the loading guidelines, validates users creating a ‘box to bay’ consignment, and ensures every movement adheres to the parameters. Respecting the loading guidelines, it then automatically completes the ‘box to bay’ plan and provides instructions to the port of departure and or final destination via EDI or a PDF; we EDI with the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company and CNS for Southampton and London Gateway.

“When a train departs or arrives at a terminal, TOPS receives and imports the gate move notifications, which are used to update the job in the system. This process immediately highlights any train misses or exceptions. It also enables us to enrich the data stored in TOPS with information from the depot. For example, we can import the container number to TOPS automatically when a container arrives at a terminal and is yet to be scheduled to a specific train. This then triggers real-time information to be sent out to customers ensuring their terminal systems are up-to-date too.”

Jim Slade continues: “GBRf is a critical player in the UK’s logistics sector, and automated communication is key to keeping their business on track and moving. Back in 2005, they were as committed as they are today to achieving business success by using the best logistics software they can, which in this case is TOPS.”

Julie Garn concludes: “Here at GBRf, we like to think of ourselves as visionaries. Our investment in TOPS has not only increased our efficiency but has revolutionised data exchange and integration across the industry. We couldn’t have done that without Fargo Systems.”

New Rail Service from the Port of Felixstowe

New Rail Service from the Port of Felixstowe

10.3.2021 | Rail

New rail service from the Port of Felixstowe


Felixstowe to Wakefield daily service operated by GB Railfreight.


A new daily rail service has been introduced at Hutchison Ports Port of Felixstowe. The new service is operated by GB Railfreight and connects the UK’s largest container port with Wakefield in Yorkshire.

The new service is the 13th operated by GB Railfreight and the 12th daily rail connection to destinations in Yorkshire.

Commenting on the latest addition to the port’s roster of rail services, Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at the Port of Felixstowe, said:

“Expanding the number of rail services available to importers and exporters from the port is one of our key objectives. The Port of Felixstowe is the Northern Powerhouse’s major container gateway and approximately 50% of traffic between Felixstowe and the North moves by rail. Increasing the number of services is good for the port, good for our customers and good for the environment.

“With three dedicated rail terminals at the port, we offer more rail services to more inland destinations with greater frequency than any other UK port.”

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, added:

“I am thrilled to see the beginning of this new service. We are extremely proud to be able to continue our work with the Port of Felixstowe to deliver a first-class service, which demonstrates sustained growth for our companies and shows an inherent trust in our long-standing partnership.

“Our growth in intermodal shows GBRf’s dedication to innovation, offering flexible door-to-door solutions that meet our customer’s needs, as well as a consistently reliable service.”

The train will initially comprise of a mix of wagon types, including two Eco Triples, two Q8s and eleven IKA Twins. The combination of a variety of wagons is significant, as it allows for enhanced flexibility, maximising the number of boxes that can be carried to better satisfy consumer demand and make more effective use of overall capacity.

Other destinations served by rail from the Port of Felixstowe are Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Teesport, Birmingham, Birch Coppice, Doncaster, East Midlands Gateway, Hams Hall, Wakefield, Ditton (Widnes), Rotherham, iPort Rossington and Cardiff.

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