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ThamesLink train side

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR)

Strategic partnership with leading train operator

Case study // Going the distance with the Go-Ahead Group

GTR is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff – a service that enables 273 million passengers to reach their destination every year.

Biffa supports GTR across approximately 300 sites, stretching from King's Lynn in the north to Brighton in the south – including train stations, offices, depots and sidings.

Depending on the type of site, Biffa makes collections of up to 20 different waste streams for the network, including general waste, DMR, glass and food. When you run an operation on this scale, it’s vital you have trusted suppliers in place to help you stay on track.

The franchise started back in September 2014, and while it’s relatively new, GTR has already made great progress in meeting their environmental targets – targets which are set for them by the Department for Transport (DfT) as part of their franchise agreement.

As well as increasing their recycling rates overall, GTR were given the objective of achieving zero-to-landfill status at six of their key stations: Luton, Blackfriars, Eastbourne, Brighton, King’s Lynn and Stevenage.

A target made even more challenging when you consider the majority of their waste is customer produced.

“Trying to get customers on board with your recycling efforts isn’t always easy,” said Biffa Corporate Account Manager Daryl Grace.

“On top that there are strict guidelines from the DfT around the type of bins allowed at stations. Clear plastic bags are an important part of increased security measures, although these can make recycling efforts more of a challenge.”

Getting people on board

Daryl has been working on the GTR contract for the past year – and in that time, he’s developed a strong working relationship with Environment Manager Kevin Bayley and the team.

“It’s fantastic working with someone as proactive and committed as Kevin,” said Daryl. “It’s not just a question of ticking boxes for him. He’s very involved and is interested in meeting targets, not just setting them.”

And from Kevin’s perspective he’s very pleased with the partnership: “Daryl is in contact several times a week, and we meet up two or three times a month,” he adds.

Regular communication is part of the reason the partnership works so well. “We stay in touch and I know Daryl understands the needs of our business, which helps when it comes to making improvements.”

Through a programme of education – everyone from station managers to shop owners, sub-contractors and cleaners – GTR has been committed to making sure their people understand what they are trying to achieve when it comes to recycling.

“At home, recycling has become part of people’s everyday routine – but at work or out and about, the rules aren’t always as clear,” said Kevin. “That’s what we’re trying to address.”

“Daryl recently helped us out with a presentation to our teams, producing posters showing different types of recycling and where to dispose of them. And it’s this kind of support that we really value.”

On track for success

GTR are well on the way to meeting their targets. Luton, Blackfriars and Eastbourne are all now zero-to-landfill sites – and the next three are well on the way. But that doesn’t mean that they are stopping there. They have just started a new trial for newspaper recycling.

“Newspapers are the companion of so many commuters. They can be easily recycled as long as they aren’t contaminated with other waste,” said Daryl.

“The key will be making sure that people are aware of what we’re trying to achieve. Education and awareness are so often the key when it comes to recycling customer waste, which is why there will be station announcements as well as information on the electronic noticeboards.”

Going the distance

Biffa’s requirements recently changed around the tolerance for contamination in DMR. Previously there was a 10% tolerance, which is now no longer permitted.

But this doesn’t deter Kevin. “New challenges are going to come along,” he adds. “There will be changes to legislation or new directives from DfT. It’s about working with Biffa to find solutions and continuing to ensure we’re doing our best when it comes to waste.”

“For a company as large as and wide reaching as ours, it’s reassuring to work with a supplier that has such a broad range of services and coverage. Our partnership with Biffa provides peace of mind that in the event of any incidents, like fly-tipping or hazardous waste, I know that I can make one phone call and get the problem resolved.”

“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made. But we couldn’t have done it without Biffa – they have been instrumental in helping us achieve our targets.”


Martin Nobes - Head of New Business

Martin Nobes

New Business Enquiries - if you're interested in how Biffa can help support you with strategic sustainable solutions contact Martin by emailing

For the past three years Biffa has worked closely with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), a franchise of the Go-Ahead Group, to help them meet their recycling and waste targets. As with any great partnership it’s not just the destination that matters – but the journey as well.

Daryl Grace, Biffa Corporate Account Manager

“The key will be making sure that people are aware of what we’re trying to achieve. Education and awareness are so often the key when it comes to recycling customer waste.”

Kevin Bayley, Environment Manager, Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway at a glance

  • Established 2014
  • 327m passenger journeys each year
  • GTR covers 22% of the network
  • Employs over 6,000 staff
  • More than 260 locations including stations, depots, sidings and offices