Vivarail’s answer to the diesel multiple unit shortage

A solution to the shortage of diesel trains in Britain may have come closer with an agreement to run Vivarail’s D-Trains on the Coventry-Nuneaton line.

Vivarail, which is led by Railfuture vice president Adrian Shooter, announced that a three-car diesel train, rebuilt from former electric London Underground vehicles, will enter passenger service.

The train will be leased to West Midlands Combined Authority, maintained by Vivarail and operated by franchisee London Midland for an initial 12 months starting later this year, according to Railway Gazette International.

“I am delighted that the class 230 will soon be running on the main line carrying passengers,” said Vivarail chief executive Mr Shooter. “We will be supplying a train of the highest quality with three carriages fitted out in a range of designs which will allow us to get valuable feedback on what passengers actually want.

“The two driving cars will retain their original ‘crowd-busting’ layout while the middle car will showcase different seating and table arrangements. Our aim is to gain direct thoughts from the public about what suits their needs which we will be important in discussions with future operators.”

The class 230 uses the aluminium bodyshells, bogies and traction motors from District Line D78 carriages, and is intended as a cost-effective solution to over-crowding on the rail network.

The former London District line trains are being rebuilt at Vivarail’s Long Marston base in Warwickshire and Vivarail says the train costs considerably less to acquire and run and uses around a third less fuel.

Each driving car is powered by two engines so the train can continue even if one of the 400 hp engines fails.

Councillor Roger Lawrence of WMCA said the D-Train would help get around a UK-wide shortage of diesel multiple-units.

“It should enable more carriages to be provided sooner than would otherwise have been the case and we would encourage passengers to give their feedback once the pilot scheme is up and running,” he said.

Rail campaigners have been impressed by an enterprising team intent on solving the shortage of diesel train units which is bedevilling plans to improve services on overcrowded rail lines throughout Britain.

The D-Train provides larger areas of convertible space so baby buggies, bikes and luggage can be stored more easily than in the cramped interiors of many modern trains.

Rental, maintenance and fuel costs will be significantly lower than both new and existing diesel units and there will be variants suitable for both branch lines and city commuter lines.

“Carrying up to 150 seats per three-car train and a further 130 standing, these would provide just the extra capacity and comfort we need, by reinforcing the two-car sets currently in operation, especially during peak periods when they are heavily overcrowded.

“They would also add extra reliability for the increasing numbers of people who travel from Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings and Rye to Ashford for the Javelin and Eurostar services to London and the Continent.”

Information from Railway Gazette International.

Vivarail news story Class 230 to enter passenger service this year

Previous Railfuture article Transformation-in-action.