Vivarail Class 230 prototype to run on Coventry-Nuneaton line
Vivarail has signed its first passenger service lease deal with West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), which will see London Midlands operate a three-car Class 230 prototype on the Coventry to Nuneaton line.
The lease, which will last for an initial period of 12 months, will serve to showcase the different design options in the D-train catalogue, according to Vivarail’s CEO Adrian Shooter.
The ex-chair of Chiltern Railways explained: “We will be supplying a train of the highest quality with three carriages fitted out in a range of designs which will allow us to get valuable feedback on what passengers actually want.
“The two driving cars will retain their original ‘crowd-busting’ layout whilst the middle car will showcase different seating and table arrangements. Our aim is to gain direct thoughts from the public about what suits their needs which we will be important in discussions with future operators.”
He added that throughout this lease period, Vivarail will be maintaining and analysing the train, which will provide data to help develop its technical expertise as the organisation moves into full production.
“Working with the team led by WMCA is an added bonus for us; we are proud to be based in the West Midlands and to see our train running on a ‘local’ route is exceptionally pleasing,” Shooter said. “We look forward to serving the people of Coventry and Warwickshire throughout this trial period!”
Cllr Roger Lawrence, transport lead at WMCA, said the D-train – made from upcycled and converted D78 District Line stock, as has been extensively covered by RTM – is an “innovative proposition” which could help the region get around the UK’s “shortage of suitable diesel trains” to run on the Coventry-Nuneaton line.
“It should enable more carriages to be provided sooner than would otherwise have been the case and we would encourage passengers to give their feedback once the pilot scheme is up and running,” he argued.
Cllr David Welsh, deputy cabinet minister for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council, agreed, adding that the D-train is a “really good example of local people feeling the benefits of the city being part of the WMCA”.
“I’m also delighted that we have been able to work with a local company to find what looks like a very smart solution to the lack of rolling stock,” he added, referencing the fact that Vivarail’s depot is situated in Warwickshire.
In a statement, Vivarail added that the Class 230 train has been designed as a cost-effective solution to over-crowding, including through “groundbreaking engine modules” that allow the train to be maintained trackside; two independent Gensets which ensure the train can operate at near-full power even if one engine fails; and 24/7 remote monitoring to ensure service is smooth and continuous.
Shooter made the case for the D-train in the latest edition of RTM, singing the praises of Vivarail’s fleet as a solution to upcoming franchise renewals. RTM has also visited the Vivarail worksite twice in the past in order to learn more about the genesis and progress of the unusual rolling stock solution.