Earlier in March, there was an announcement by Vivarail that the disappointing delayed entry into service of the Class 230 battery trains had a piece of better news for us – the development of a new fast charging feature. That said, the first of the delayed 2-car units did make its way to the Marston Vale Line in the West Midlands in late February.
These trains have been re-engineered from London Transport’s ‘D78’ stock units, originally manufactured for London Transport by Metro-Cammell in Birmingham, with electrical equipment from GEC Traction and Brush. The D78s were used on LT’s 600v DC surface lines, and started service between 1979 and 1983, with the Bombardier refurb taking place between 2004 and 2008. Vivarail bought 150 of the driving motor cars and 300 non-powered cars. These would be used to build not just these new battery powered trains, but additional, low emission diesel-electric multiple units, and hybrid sets for non-electrified routes.
In their new guise, the aluminium underframe and bodyshell is retained, but the vehicles have been completely stripped out and re-equipped internally, and fitted out with low emission diesel engines, and other energy saving elements. The batteries are lithium phosphate (LiFeMgPO4), with multiple cells in each unit. ‘Valence’ battery modules, examples of which are already at work on ‘Optare’ buses in the UK, were fitted in the original test train. More recently, Vivarail have signed a contract with Dutch firm ‘Hoppecke’ for ongoing supply of battery packages for the on-board systems as well as the charging points. The diesel engines, for traction, and powering gensets are, like most modern cars equipped with stop-start technology, adding further to their green credentials. These are 200hp Ford diesel engines, and meet the EU’s Stage IIIB emissions standard, and have been modified by Revolve in the UK, to the requirements for the rail traction environment, and these re-engineered trains from Vivarail.
Overall, the new trains themselves are a highly innovative way of recycling older designs of rolling stock, and adopting the latest technology in battery, control and traction systems, extending, and expanding their working life. The Vivarail designs can be built in either diesel-electric, battery, hybrid, or just about any combination of traction power required, and in a variety of configurations, in a 2-car and 3-car layout.
Next up – how about a hydrogen fuel cell powered train? Such plans are already well advanced, and would suit the Vivarail approach to development in the UK, whilst Birmingham University’s Centre for Railway Research and Education faculty is already moving down that path.
Read more by clicking on the image below:
Useful & Interesting links: