US transportation services company rolls into Birmingham

Genesee & Wyoming (G&W), which manages 120 freight railroads globally, has launched a regional hub in Birmingham this week.

The US transportation group has moved into the recently-refurbished Lewis Building in the Colmore Business District.

Its sixth-floor office houses G&W’s new UK Shared Service Centre, which brings together the UK finance and procurement teams as well as a range of staff involved in on-going technology developments for the first time.

Gary Long, G&W’s European chief executive, said the facilities were the start of a wider investment programme bringing better service to its customers and improving its operational performance.

“Birmingham was chosen for its location, people and business climate,” he said. “The acceptance of G&W moving to the city was strong and we felt we were really wanted.”

The move follows on from the company’s 2015 and 2016 acquisitions of UK operators Freightliner and Pentalver.

At the same time G&W was impacted by the closure of three UK coal plants and the wider move away from coal as a substantial energy source in the UK.

“We had to make a considerable amount of change because of the downturn in coal-fired utilities in the UK in 2016,” he said.  “It was a huge market disruption. So, there was a change in the way energy was produced, which led to a change in the way we manage and invest in the business.

“We have changed the market we pursue from coal to aggregates. We have invested in our people and assets and this is what the new Birmingham office is all about. As well as this, we have also invested £6.5m in new tech for payroll, which allows us to automate financial functions.”

G&W, which has 8,000 employees globally, has also built a locomotive maintenance facility in Crewe and has approved the building of another in Ipswich. G&W’s UK and Europe Region includes the UK’s largest rail maritime intermodal operator and second-largest freight rail provider, as well as regional rail services in Continental Europe.

The Birmingham office will serve as a central hub for G&W’s regional workforce and has a training and conference suite that allows for further investment in staff development across the UK.

“This significant investment in Birmingham and the West Midlands is integral to the on-going transformation of G&W’s UK organisation,” said Charles Noble, G&W’s European chief financial officer.

“Improved employee facilities, better technologies and the immensely skilled workforce of the West Midlands will improve processes and efficiency and remove administrative burdens for our customers, suppliers and business partners.”