Rolling stock

10.01.17

D-Train project derailed as partners pull out of trial

The future of the D-Train on the Coventry to Nuneaton (NUCKLE) line is in doubt after local partners pulled out of the project.

The three-car Class 230 train, built by Vivarail from upcycled parts of London Underground trains, was originally promised as an innovative solution to pressure on London Midland services on the busy route, which suffers from overcrowding on the one carriage train that calls at the Ricoh Arena, Bedworth and Bermuda Park stations.

However, the D-Train suffered an engine fire during a test run on 30 December, requiring an investigation in partnership with the RAIB.

In response, Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, London Midland, Warwickshire County Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have jointly announced that they will no longer be able to support the project.

A WMCA spokesperson told RTM that the issue was one of timing.

The fire investigation means that Vivarail will not be able to begin the eight-month trial of the Class 230 in February as planned, the last date possible before a new operator takes over the West Midlands franchise in October.

“There’s no way that they can get the trial up and running by the end of February,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve got no choice but to stop it.” However, they added that WMCA could still be interested in the D-Train “going forward”.

In December, RTM revealed that the Class 230 project was already in doubt, with delays preventing the original plan of beginning a year-long trial in October.

In a statement, the Class 230 partners said: “We have been working with Vivarail on this innovative but technically challenging project to try and find a solution to the UK-wide shortage of diesel trains.

“Our goal throughout has been to provide passengers with an enhanced service on the Coventry to Nuneaton line and this remains the case. That’s why it is so unfortunate that this fire and the subsequent investigation has led to a suspension of the trial that had been due to start in February.

“This delay means there is no longer enough time to run and evaluate a pilot service using these trains before the next local rail franchise starts in October. It is for this reason we have little choice but to reluctantly withdraw from the trial.”

The partners added that they would continue discussions with suppliers of diesel trains, including Vivarail, to try to resolve the impact of the rolling stock shortage on capacity and service operation.

Vivarail told RTM: “We entirely understand the position of our partners in relation to the trial, especially with regard to the franchise timings.  We are very grateful to all the partners for the support they have given, and continue to give, us as a local company.”

The company said it will publish an interim report into the causes of the fire early next week. “It is business as usual at our end and we are confident in the future of the Class 230,” Vivarail concluded.

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Comments

Kev   10/01/2017 at 11:53

a lil short sighted - there will always be teething troubles during heavy type testing - i hope the class 230 is a success, its obviously causing some interest as porterbrook are doing a similar project with a 319 ...

Lee   10/01/2017 at 11:58

I think it's clear there were a lot of risks with this project, and I applaud those behind it for taking it on. I hope this isn't terminal, although sadly I don't see people queuing up to buy these trains. They would be perfect for increasing capacity on marginal routes that can't justify new stock, but is there enough money to be made in those? I suspect most of the D Stock will ultimately go for scrap.

Lutz   10/01/2017 at 13:17

Sun headline: "D-railed D-train D-saster!"

Andrew Gwilt   10/01/2017 at 15:13

The future for the converted Class 230's does look bleak and I still think that most of them could be scrapped whilst some could be saved and used on other lines. They could be used on the local lines in Southwest England and South Wales to replace the Class 143 & Class 144 Pacer trains. But it's sad to see that most of the former LU D78 stocks could be heading for scrap.

Mark   10/01/2017 at 16:34

I am tired of reading about all those wanting these bodyshells & bogies scrapped, the rest of the trains are new. FAR TOO much money is being spent of valuable resources by everyone wanting new. Engines are constantly catching fire including on modern stocks. Find the the problem, sort it, and the nimbys in Coventry back this product. After we should be recycling - including D78's. Best thing to do is to scrap the orders for new foreign built trains, that will solve many issues and reuse these BRITISH built units.

Huguenot   10/01/2017 at 17:16

I tend to agree with Mark. There's nothing to be ashamed of in redeploying trains previously used elsewhere (apart from Pacers, that is) provided that they are properly refurbished and brought up to modern accessibility standards. The Class 319s have been successfully transferred to Northern. Far too many new trains have been bought from abroad when refurbishments would have been cheaper. There can be a future for the Class 442s, Class 365s and all those popular Mk3 coaches from the HSTs. So I wish the D-Train well and hope that it sorts out its problem ASAP.

Stuart   10/01/2017 at 18:26

One setback and they're quitting? That certainly doesn't indicate much conviction to start with. If this program is worthwhile then a few months delay should not be a problem.

Henry Law   10/01/2017 at 19:02

In my view it is a good use of resources to refurbish rather than scrap I had my doubts about this approach from the start. Surely it would have been less risky, and more flexible, to use them to form locomotive powered push-pull sets?

Rail Boy   10/01/2017 at 21:03

About time, ridiculous notion, re-newing dreadful old trains and sending them up north. This should be assigned to the scrap yard along with the laughable freshening up of the Pacer. I am surprised Porterbrook have not come up with an idea of installing wifi on the rocket and bringing that into service stating it has had a modern overhaul.

Jak Jaye   11/01/2017 at 10:10

One more nail in the coffin that is the privatised railway and as for building British we had a proper railway works once it was called York Works untill the short sighted Thatcher closed it along with all the other BR Workshops

David   11/01/2017 at 13:43

Jak, ironically the BREL works survived throughout the Thatcher era, it was privatisation that ended up closing the Holgate Road works. Litchurch Lane survives, however, and it seems to be thriving.

Matthew Read   11/01/2017 at 23:08

I hope the project still goes ahead I hate to see these wonderful trains go for scrap already.

Jerry Alderson   13/01/2017 at 15:22

The problem here is that the trial has been tied to the franchise and that ends soon. The trial could be restarted when the new franchise is running, but the downside is that the new TOC will have committed to certain rolling stock and could not put the D-Train in its bid. My belief is that the Rail Delivery Group should have taken charge of this trial as something that is worthwhile for the rail industry and take it out of the franchise temporarily. Then the trial could re-start as soon as the engine issue is resolved.

Andrew JG.   14/01/2017 at 21:59

Still I would like to see the Vivarail project to continue to convert the former London Underground D78 stocks into brand new British Rail DEMU Class 230 D-Train multiple units that are to replace the Class 142, Class 143 and Class 144 Pacer trains. And to operate on rural routes in parts of Wales, Cornwall, Devon, West Country, Cotswolds, West Midlands and possibly used on rural routes in the East Midlands and local rural lines in East Anglia and possibly in Southern England. Depends where the Class 230's would end up or end up getting scrapped entirely.

Manchester Mike   16/01/2017 at 14:22

DfT can't properly forecast train needs, and the increase in rail ridership shows no signs of abating. So more trains'll be required, and these D-Trains can fill the bill on many lighter lines. Prototypes and trials are meant to suss out problems before full implementation. Plus a third party's engine caught fire, so that fact needs to be better publicized.

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