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16.01.15

Vivarail set to receive first D78 for conversion into DEMU

The first London Underground D78 train to be withdrawn from service is being delivered to Vivarail at Long Marston on Monday, under its programme to convert the old stock into diesel trains for Northern and other routes.

In December, RTM reported that Vivarail had reached a deal with Transport for London to acquire 150 driving motor cars and about 300 vehicles of ex-District Line stock, with plans to form 75 units of two, three or potentially four-car trains.

The company confirmed to RTM that it is in discussions with potential customers, including every bidder for the next Northern franchise. It is also exploring opportunities for overseas export.

When the first of the stock arrives on Monday, the plan is to begin converting it into a three-car D-Train prototype immediately so that it can be up and running on the 1.8-mile test track in the summer.

There have been criticisms from the RMT rail union and others that the plan amounts to running “London’s cast-offs” on heavy rail routes that deserve newer trains, but Vivarail notes that the ‘flexible frame’ bogies are barely 10 years old, and promises: new engines and generators; new auxiliary equipment; new traction control systems; new national rail safety systems; a new cab structure; new gangways; new lighting; new or refurbished interiors, based on client requirements; upcycled corrosion-free aluminium bodyshells; and upcycled ‘nearly-new’ bogies.

The company has contracted Revolve (Brentwood, Essex) to supply the diesel power modules, and Strukton (Holland), to supply the insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT), which controls the traction motors in both traction and braking.

Vivarail says: “D-Trains are much more than London’s cast-offs. Instead they offer a new concept in sustainable travel for local rail services, with a first-class engineering pedigree.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Dr Jim Ford   16/01/2015 at 13:40

As a railway doctor who has had to wrestle with the health problems for staff caused by the outdated ergonomics of 142s, I naturally welcome a substantially rebuilt unit, which hopefully will employ the best of modern ergonomics to the environment which train crews inhabit. However it would also be prudent from an operational point of view to retain switchability to 3/4 rail traction to enable the new units to be flexibly deployed in areas such as Merseyside, the South and the Overground, where through running would be advantageous. DfT used to object to diesels under Liverpool, but they have to use the Severn and Summit Tunnels, so with a thorough rebuild it should be possible to ensure safety for Merseyrail use, thereby enabling the long-hoped for extensions to Wrexham, Preston, Warrington and Wigan Wallgate to happen.

Pedr Jarvis   16/01/2015 at 17:38

I would support Jim in his wish to see third-rail capability kept for the D78s in the north. One wonders at the economics of isolated sections of electrification through long tunnels, but it has been done in America.

Pedr Jarvis   16/01/2015 at 17:39

I would support Jim in his wish to see third-rail capability kept for the D78s in the north. One wonders at the economics of isolated sections of electrification through long tunnels, but it has been done in America.

GW   16/01/2015 at 20:18

Haven't people suffered enough? Disgraceful form of replacement train.

Wimg   17/01/2015 at 12:09

as far as we're talking about Rail Technology , especially the underfloor generator rafts are an improvement over the initial plan of an engineroom on top of one bogie. We shall see it this summer, and that's the most interesting part of it ..

Mikeyb   18/01/2015 at 15:55

Certain persons in "authority" (e.g. London-based politicians and Civil Servants) seem to be of the notion that, when they are gifted brand new trains, we poor rail passengers up North are quite happy to travel in their old cast-offs. Firstly, we are getting 25 year-old bog-standard (i.e. not re-engineered) Class 319s for Liverpool and Manchester commuter services and now 35 year-old London Underground trains may be destined for Yorkshire. How about treating us Northerners to some new trains for a change - Hitachi perhaps?

Corporate Critter   18/01/2015 at 16:54

Seriously? Re-engineered cast off tube trains for up north? If they are not good enough for London, why palm them off elsewhere? Scrap them and buy new, or continue to use them in London, but refurbished.

Mrgriser   18/01/2015 at 22:11

The Class 319s may seem that way but they are in good condition compared to the more modern Electrostars. Plus the D trains will offer better ride quality than the Pacers will so all you people in towns such as Pontefract and Barnsley should be happy that the nodding donkeys as they are known are going to be replaced

Serge   19/01/2015 at 17:12

Hi! How are You? With all what it has to be done to those Trains with the list provided in the article, it would of been better to buy new ones, They have to replace almost everything.I wish Them(the Company and Passengers) well. it is is just like in Aviation when smaller Airlines are buying old aircraft and tries to refurbished Them, it is a bit risky, but if the budget of the Cities(of those trains) are tight, it is the best alternative, but I hope and pray They are sure(I know They will) it will be safe for the Passengers and Chauffeur of those trains. I wish the People involve well and success. Take care and have a super day.

Stpaddy   20/01/2015 at 08:05

It's scandalous that heavily subsidised London Underground were allowed to replace these trains with new when 15 years life were left. Politicians must realise that it would be suicidal to replace hated Pacers with OLDER trains which will be slow, rough-riding, lack seating capacity and possibly also toilets. TOCs must realise that these non-standard, Heath Robinson contraptions will be an operational liability. Cross breeding a bus with a coal truck wasn't successful. It's mad to try crossing a tube train with a Ford Transit.

JSW   21/01/2015 at 11:30

Pacers can do 75mph. D-trains will have a 60mph speed limit – already being called Crawlers. (And how comfortable is D78 stock even 60?) A 2-car D-train would have less seats than a 2-car Pacer and possibly no toilet (see Vivarail's example configurations). A longer train might be made up by adding trailers - reducing acceleration. And will Vivarail be offering platform extensions on the Huddersfield-Penistone line as part of the package? Reliability in service must be questionable - the "white van" diesel is unproven in the confined space under a D78 vehicle. It all sounds like an insult to Northern rail users who are being promised faster services with more desperately needed capacity. Crawlers might be suitable for short branch lines. I suggest parts of East Anglia and non-electrified Thames Valley branches. See how commuters in Henley, Marlow and Windsor like them. They are used to something better. And the North deserves better.

RTM   21/01/2015 at 11:45

Interesting thoughts all. We've interviewed Adrian Shooter about it in-depth, he addresses some of these points - that will go online soon and in our next print edition.

Stevel   23/01/2015 at 12:59

I think the powertrain choice is a bit weird , never mind the rest of the changes to these units , going to be a bit of struggle in a simple gradient ,and those motors however they are set will be giving the final transmission a stressful time even partially loaded you going to hear them coming motors wailing like a banshee to give a normal service , look forward guys going to be very interesting , love to see how the ford engine stands up to it (FixOrRepairDaily) comes to mind

John A   28/01/2015 at 16:10

A train capable of running as an EMU over Merseyside's third rail network and then continuing under diesel power beyond it (to the likes of Wrexham Central, Preston and Wigan Wallgate) would enable much needed through services to central Liverpool over routes which are currently not seen as a high priority for electrification.

James D.   30/01/2015 at 17:52

John A's comment is very interesting. Regarding Bidston-Wrexham I have had the same idea. But I have not read that Vivarail are to retain 3rd rail current collection faclities. However, if a D78 non-driving motor car were the basis for the centre coach in a 3-coach formation (with retractable shoes) this could be a solution. The new control system would then have to include the 3rd rail option. Using an NDM or a DM car for the Merseyrail section only and dropping off at Bidston (as used to be done Southampton-Weymouth) car would not be not possible because of th loop in Liverpool. A question would be: is 60 m.p.h. sufficient for the Bidston-Wrexham section?

Alec Evans   07/09/2015 at 16:01

to use such a small diesel engine in this application seems to be not a good idea to me. It didn't work well in the Wrightbus manufactured hybrids double deck buses operating in London, which would be a less arduous duty than driving a train. Why not consider a durable six cylinder horizontal diesel engine as manufactured by the likes of Volvo or Cummins for this application?

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