By a stroke of luck we were able to take advantage of an invitation to travel on the Vivarail battery-powered class 230 train. It had been shipped up to the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, on the banks of the Forth, to give a series of demonstration runs to rail industry and Scottish Government folk.
As many readers will know, the ‘class 230’ train is a former London Underground ‘D Train’ which was surplus to LUL’s requirements. Adrian Shooter’s Vivarail company bought a large number of the trains and is in the process of rebuilding them. Some are about to start operating in normal service, as diesel trains, on the Bedford-Bletchley Line and others will operate services on the Conwy Valley and Wrexham-Bidston routes as part of the new Keolis ‘Transport for Wales’ franchise, which happens to start today (congratulations mes amis). What is particularly interesting in 230.002 is that it is battery powered. There is growing recognition that the days of diesel traction are numbered and even the most enthusiastic advocates of overhead electrification (me being one) recognise that not every line is suitable for such major infrastructure investment. Vivarail is also developing a hydrogen fuel cell train which should be a UK first. The Vivarail trains are ideal for relatively local operations. Look on it as a replacement for a ‘Pacer’ or a class 150/3, perfect for many ‘community rail’ lines. I think people were impressed with what they saw.
Photo and text (C) Paul Salveson..Salvo 259b)