Vivarail secures funding to further develop D-Train technology

New funding has today been announced by Vivarail to develop the Class 230 DEMU battery-powered D-Train.

The cash will come from the Accelerating Innovation in Rail grant competition, run by Innovate UK, which recognises the progress the company has made in developing battery technology for the rail industry – a concept recently touted by transport secretary Chris Grayling as the right way forward for alternative rolling stock.

Vivarail has also stated that it is on track to become the first UK manufacturer to build production battery trains, which are forecast to come into service from early 2018.

Each D-Train needs 750 volts of power which can be supplied by battery, DMU, EMU or as a combination of all these components.

Adrian Shooter, CEO of Vivarail, explained that from the inception of his company, the aim had always been to take advantage of new and developing technologies.

“Battery trains are not new – they were running over 100 years ago,” he stated. “However, the batteries of today offer so much more in terms of reliability, range, safety and environmental benefits. They also provide an alternative to electrification. 

“Our EMU/battery hybrid train will be able to make use of existing overhead lines or sections of third rail for charging the battery during the journey, or a diesel/battery hybrid could use the engines as range extenders.”

Shooter also revealed that Vivarail is working with other market-leading experts to develop charging points where the train can draw power to recharge the batteries whilst stopped. 

“By providing this suite of options we can make sure each train we provide is able to take advantage of the specific line where it will operate,” he continued.

“Our tests show that the train is able to run for 80 miles before requiring a recharge. Of course, that would not be done in a real-life scenario but it is easy to see that as a hybrid with range extenders the battery train is already very able to run on many lines across the country.

“Receiving this grant will mean we are able to use the expertise we have already built up to continue leading the market in bringing these exciting new trains into service in the very near future,” Shooter concluded. “We are currently on track to produce a battery train fully certified and ready for passenger service by the end of this year.”

The positive news seems to signal a more optimistic way forward for the company, which was affected by an unexpected train fire during last year’s festive period. Since then, Shooter has written for RTM describing the next steps in the company’s future.

Vivarail has also recently unveiled images of the D-Train DMU, which is now ready for sale and already undergoing more mainline testing.

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Andrew Gwilt   26/07/2017 at 21:10

New lease of life for the converted Class 230's D-Trains that once was used on the London Underground District Line (1978 D-Stocks). London Midland, Great Western Railway and Arriva Trains Wales are the main operators that are to use the Class 230's and maintain them. With other rail operators that could also use these trains for extra capacity. Southern might be getting the Class 230's on the Brighton-Ashford International Marshlink Line service. London Midland will soon use the Class 230's on the Coventry-Nuneaton and Coventry-Leamington Spa services and possibly to operate the Class 230's on the Bletchley-Bedford Marston Line service. GWR and ATW are to use the Class 230's on branch lines to replace the Class 142's and Class 143's Pacers and perhaps GWR might even use the Class 230's on the branch lines in the Thames Valley area including the Slough-Windsor line and West Ealing-Greenford line. With ATW to use the Class 230's on the Valley lines and Cardiff Bay line. Greater Anglia could of receive the Class 230's on some branch lines including the Marks Tey-Sudbury line. But instead they have ordered the Class 755's Stadler Flirt Bi-Mode trains.

J, Leicester   27/07/2017 at 08:36

Sorry Andrew, but none of those companies you've listed are confirmed as intending to use the 230s. I'm sure the media would have a field day with "second hand" 230s running on the ailing Southern franchise in particular, regardless of the high quality of the finished product. Only ATW would have been likely to take a punt on them, but they've now opted for 319 Flex units (wrongly in my opinion, but more fool them for being in Porterbrook's back pocket). London Midland (or Frankenrail, for however long they continue to be kept alive) dropped plans to use 230s after the fire and the WMCA withdrew funding, which the Accelerating Innovation In Rail grant is replacing. Either way, we don't know what LNWR's intentions will be once they finally take over, but as 230s on the NUCKLE were driven by the WMCA rather than London Midland, I can't see them having another change of heart. That being said, a lot of good progress coming out of Vivarail now - they're back in the position they were in before the fire, now they just need a TOC to take a punt on their trains for a trial. After the Long Marston open day services, they've cleared a lot of the hurdles to getting some into revenue-earning service.

Andrew Gwilt   28/07/2017 at 09:28

Suppose you are right J Leicester. All that money has been wasted on converting the former LU D78 Stocks and none of the train operators don't want the Class 230's. Guess that's them facing the scrapyard.

D.W.Roberts   28/07/2017 at 12:35

I imagine that none of the bidders for the so-called 'Not-For-Profit' Welsh franchise will commit to anything until it is awarded sometime in early 2018. Then it will take time to decide what is needed and the new franchise is supposed to start in August 2018. The loss of wires between Cardiff and Swansea makes nonsense of the electrification of the Cardiff Valleys and so puts in even more doubt the hare-brained Metro idea, which has several major flaws already. The most likely 'event' for 2020 is the award by civil servants of a derogation for the 142/143 Pacers to allow them to run with the toilets locked out of use, thereby not 'discriminating' against the disabled.

Matthew Read   28/07/2017 at 23:07

Why can't they go to Devon they would make good crowd busters in 6 car formation running between Paignton and Exeter.

Mark Hare   07/08/2017 at 11:24

@Andrew Gwilt - it really is about time you stopped representing (incorrect) speculation as fact. No doubt the D-trains will find work with various TOCs at some point but nothing has been confirmed or released into the public domain as yet. According to Vivarail's own website, the earliest any operator will be able to take delivery of a Class 230 is early 2018.

J, Leicester   11/08/2017 at 11:05

While we're aimlessly speculating as to where the 230s will end up, it'd be interesting to know what it says in the "Order Book" VivaRail has hinted at the existence of. They've insinuated, albeit rather coyly, that they have orders already lined up from some quarters, though that's fairly old news and may have had something to do with the collapsed WMCA deal. As for the latest twist in TOCs that may take them on, Angel Trains' 150s currently with GWR will now not be going to the Northern Franchise, meaning there's going to be a gap in the latter's DMU roster from at least a year, perhaps longer if the Pacers aren't fully replaced by new stock in time for withdrawal. That has of course led to industry rumblings, albeit amongst numerous other options, that they might take a punt on a small order of 230s to fill the gap on a short-term trial basis. VivaRail are said to be keen to get their trains out into service, even in that capacity, to prove the product's viability. If they don't work out, they can ship them off elsewhere, and if they do they can proclaim them as "shiny new trains" - if it worked for their decrepid Northern Electrics and the 144e, it's arguably more honest of them to do so for the D-Trains, which for right or wrong have a far greater stigma around them.

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