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Vivarail: Cause of D-train fire ‘not immediately obvious’

Vivarail has completed its initial investigation into the Class 230 test train fire over the festive period, concluding that the cause of the fire is “not immediately obvious”.

On 30 December 2016, ten members of Vivarail staff were forced to evacuate the three-car Class 230 passenger train near Kenilworth station after one of its gensets set on fire during a test run from Tyseley to Nuneaton via Leamington Spa.

The objectives of the test run included testing the reliability of the genset, which had been fitted with a new engine just before Christmas, and to record timing data to support to support planning activity in relation to proposed passenger operation on the Coventry to Nuneaton (NUCKLE) line.

The fire led to significant disruption of services as it caused trains to be cancelled between Coventry and Leamington Spa and affected services from Manchester to Bournemouth.

“Genset 4 has overall the highest hours of all the gensets – however following an internal engine failure it had been fitted with a new zero hours engine,” the report observed.

“Following fitment of the engine the genset was fitted to the train on 21st December and this was the first occasion that it would have been operating at full power. Prior to this test run GS4 had only been used on the train for providing auxiliaries and low speed shunting.”

Drawing on written recollections of events from all the on-board personnel, the report outlined how two of the Vivarail management staff travelling in the rear coach noticed “puffs of smoke” emerging from the right side of the train shortly after leaving Leamington Spa.

It soon became clear that there was “significant fire” on the underframe of the train, and it came to an emergency stop just outside Kenilworth station. The fire was eventually put out by the fire brigade after staff were unable to put it out alone following their evacuation.

The unit was eventually found capable of moving itself with its remaining good power car and was moved to Coventry Yard under its own power at around 16:45 before later being returned to the engine depot at Tyseley.

“Genset 4 has suffered significant damage and a cause of the fire is not immediately obvious,” the report concluded. “Consequently, a forensic examination of the genset has been arranged.”

Vivarail is due to commence its forensic inspection of the damaged genset tomorrow and aims to publish its final report into the fire by the end of the month.

Last week, RTM revealed that the future of the D-Train on the NUCKLE line is in doubt after local partners pulled out of the project.


Rail Man   16/01/2017 at 16:15

Can we end this experiment of using retired underground trains on Midland and Northern networks and actually look at how we can provide the rolling stock that the country needs and deserves?

Andrew Gwilt   16/01/2017 at 19:11

So Vivarail will still convert the former London Underground D78 rolling stocks despite fire risks with Ford engines that are installed onto the converted Class 230's rolling stocks.

Andy B   16/01/2017 at 19:39

Plenty of sprinters & other diesels have suffered fires in the past.

Huguenot   16/01/2017 at 20:20

The cause of the fire will soon be established. As Andy B says, it won't be the first. Once sorted, the tests should continue. With electrification delays and projects being shelved, there is a shortage of DMUs and the D-Train can fill some gaps on lines for which it is suitable.

Lee   17/01/2017 at 08:04

Although this is a novel idea and praiseworthy in that respect, it is still a cheap alternative to providing purpose-built rolling stock. My concern is that if this thing does succeed, it may be used as the alternative to electrification of some routes. Northern are already proposing to fit gensets to class 319's I understand. if this is true it is utterly utterly pointless as they will in effect be replacing 2x 2-car sprinters with a recycled 4-car one. Please, instead of messing around with things like this, can Network Rail pull its thumb out of its backside and deliver the infrastructure projects it has said it will rather than TOC's looking at these recycled hybrid-powered EMU's which were more environmentally friendly in their original form!

Noam   17/01/2017 at 10:59

Why Rail Man? Have you been on D-stock? It's much more spacious and comfortable than many National Rail trains, and much more pleasant to ride in with massive windows. Compare this with the poor window alignment and acres of hearing-aid beige plastic we've been subjected to with many recent train orders. The bogies are only nine years old and the Al bodyshells will go on forever.

Pdeaves   17/01/2017 at 13:02

What's wrong with re-using Underground stock? How is it fundamentally different from rebuilding 47s as 57s, or 73s and 73/9s, or all those first generation Southern Railway/early BR third rail EMUs that were rebuilt from loco-hauled coaches or older EMU kit, or even converting Underground stock for the Isle of Wight? The idea of taking a good bit of train, removing the bad/unwanted bits and adding new is not, actually, novel.

Kev   17/01/2017 at 13:36

a shame this has occurred, perhaps adrian and vivarail should see if relocation to old dalby is a better place for testing? you can perform more intensive testing there than on live branchlines. personally i hope this works, provides ideas for other things

Roger Capel, Sheffield & Glossop   17/01/2017 at 15:32

This sort of thing is far from new. Anyone else remember the lengthy spate of 1st generation DMU gearbox fires in the '70s? I'll never forget standing on the platform at Newark Castle & being told by the mail train guard "if I was you I'd go for a pint. He's on fire at Market Rasen".

Mark Bott   17/01/2017 at 18:00

It is a same that the unit caught fire, but as mentioned before fires on DMU vehicles are far from rare. But all things aside it is a shame that so many people have been quick to rubbish this project. The fact is there will be a requirement for replacement DMU vehicles. Nobody has had the chance to ride on the Cl230 units in service yet. With the expected cascade of DMU vehicles now in doubt, due to the problems with the electrification program. Surely an innovative solution is what is needed. Why the rush for new vehicles, as re-engineered vehicles have proved to be in many cases a better prospect. Due to the better build quality, and existing skills base for repair and operation of the vehicles. I hope a new partner can be found as I consider this a very worthwhile project worthy of industry support.

Blower46   17/01/2017 at 22:19

Would Vivarail not be better at using the stored 'Pigs' and hire in some 67's which don't have any work

Recycling Enthusiast   18/01/2017 at 09:56

The time has come for this country to put away the throw away culture. We are encouraged to recycle household and industrial items and most of us are expected to segregate everything into appropriate bins for collection. Railways are no exception. We have seen numerous times where old redundant vehicles are modified and reused. This project takes good quality rolling stock and converts it into acceptable and comfortable "new" trains. Remember, this gives valuable work and experience to this country's workers especially now that we are going independent. The Kent coast project and the Bournemouth electrification are just 2 examples of recycling that proved hugely successful. Let us carry on thinking recycle not renew.

Lee   18/01/2017 at 12:08

Recycling Enthusiast, your comments are quite valid, however in the case Bournemouth electrification, the proposed electrification scheme went ahead and replaced diesel traction with electric traction. The Class 230 does the complete opposite. While okay for current non-electrified routes where electrification is not and is unlikely to be viable, these are a potentially viable traction mode. However, the concern is that schemes that electrification schemes that have been delayed may be cancelled and see hybrid power used instead Not much difference environmentally I agree but flies in the face of making the railways greener through electrification. You also overlook the costs and practicalities in re-using old rolling stock. DDA requirements will no-doubt have changed, D-Trains for example, never had toilets but to be used in a heavy rail environment, will require at least one.. A lot of steel-bodied rolling stock may be unfit structurally, to be reused again, without substantial replacement of panels, floors, etc. and the list goes on. Yes, recycling stock may be a good short-term solution to rolling stock shortages but capacity and operation are long-term issues.

J, Leicester   20/01/2017 at 10:19

Re: Lee - just to clarify, the D-Train stock is aluminium-bodied, which was the whole point of them buying those specific units in the first place - minimal corrosion and lightweight. Also worth pointing out that toilets are included in the 230's design as per DDA requirements. I can think of a few routes around here that would benefit from the 230's increased acceleration but not require more than 60mph running - Nottingham to Lincoln and the Robin Hood Line, both reliant on aging sprinters and (if a man may dream for a moment) the Leicester to Burton route would be a perfect proving ground. The market is there for the taking - VivaRail just need to prove that the 230 is reliable and get these problems sorted fast, before another option proves more reliable.

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