Rolling stock

07.06.18

Vivarail to supply hybrid D-Train fleet in first train deal for new Wales franchise

As hinted in its comment piece for RTM’s April/May, Vivarail has closed a deal with KeolisAmey to supply a fleet of Class 230 D-Trains as part of the operator’s takeover of the Wales and Borders franchise.

Writing in our latest issue, Vivarail chairman Adrian Shooter hinted that a deal could be on the horizon by saying that the train “may well be seen on a line near you later this year.”

Now, just a month after, the company – which upcycles London Underground D-stock trains to suit commuter routes across the country – announced that it was chosen as the preferred bidder to supply trains for the Welsh franchise.

This is the first rolling stock deal announcement made since the operator was awarded the franchise in late May. When KeolisAmey outlined its £1.9bn upgrade plans earlier this week, it had only revealed that 148 trains would be replaced at a total cost of £800m, with 95% of journeys being made on new vehicles from 2023.

The Vivarail units will be the first to come into service as part of the refreshed franchise.

Highlighting how proud he was of the deal, Shooter said this was a “very exciting day” for the company.

“We know that KeolisAmey want to bring the best new trains to their passengers so our interior layout has been designed to do exactly that,” he explained. “As well as the wide and spacious carriages the trains will have a Universal Access Toilet, wi-fi, air conditioning, USB ports and 3-pin sockets.

Image 2 - interior

“There will be a range of seating layouts and plenty of space for bikes and luggage. With KeolisAmey we have been determined to give passengers the very best travelling experience and the trains they deserve: modern, comfortable, reliable and environmentally-friendly.”

Working alongside partners at Creactive, Vivarail has also finalised a red and white livery design that will be seen across the entire fleet – stepping away from its usual green-wrapped prototypes.

The new trains will be built as battery/diesel hybrids in an effort to cut down on emissions and make use of Vivarail’s new technology.

“With this hybrid fleet we will deliver a train that is clean, green and reliable making use of GPS systems to cut out the engines in stations and environmentally-sensitive areas,” Shooter continued.

Image 3 - bike space

The new fleet will come into service in summer 2019. Design and build of the three-car trains is already underway at the company’s two sites, and orders have been placed to supply Universal Access Toilets from a company based in Cwmbran.

The fleet of five trains will move to Wales for final testing and commissioning early next year.

Colin Lea, mobilisation director at KeolisAmey Wales Cymru, said the rolling stock will provide a “step-change in passenger comfort and service quality on three North Wales Routes,” including Wrexham-Bidston, Conwy Valley and Chester-Crewe.

Today’s news marks an exciting chapter for the relatively small company, which last signed a deal in March this year to supply three Class 230s to West Midlands Trains. Early in 2017, it had been embroiled in controversy when one of its test trains caught fire, causing the project to be derailed as partners in the NUCKLE line pulled out of the planned trial.

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