I have (quite rightly) been reminded that this blog is supposed to be covering other forms of transport in and around the region as well as just buses. With so much going on over the last few months its been easy to miss other stories that would normally have been covered here. Hopefully now things have quietened down a bit I can start to catch up on a few rail stories.
Lets start off with Vivarail.
Who are Vivarail?
Vivarail Ltd. was formed in 2012 to produce a new type of rolling stock designed specifically for local rail services – the D-Train. Vivarail is headed by Adrian Shooter CBE, previously Chairman of Chiltern Railways, and the development team draws on almost 200 years’ experience in railway engineering and operations. The company is privately funded, in association with an international company that has a successful track record in railway developments worldwide. It is based at a rail-connected site in central England with full manufacturing facilities and a dedicated 4km test track.
Traffic on Britain’s regional rail routes is growing quickly, but suitable rolling stock is in short supply. Existing diesel trains are fully utilised, and many older vehicles no longer meet passengers’ aspirations. Network-wide electrification can be the solution in the long term, but this will take time – and more capacity and better comfort are needed now.
The answer to this problem is Vivarail’s D-train – a new concept that can supplement or replace existing trains, upgrade services and equip new routes, at a fraction of the cost of buying conventional new rolling stock
The D-train uses the bodyshells, bogies and motors from surplus London Underground District Line trains. The bodyshells are made from corrosion-free aluminium, and will be re-engineered to give additional collision protection. The “flexible frame” bogies – which are specifically designed for lower-quality track – are barely 10 years’ old.
D-Trains are much more than London’s cast-offs. Instead they offer a new concept in sustainable travel for local rail services, with a first-class engineering pedigree.
Vivarail aims to begin mainline testing in October with the prototype three-car train, initially on the Moreton-in-Marsh - Honeybourne section of the Oxford - Worcester line, which passes the company's Long Marston base. A passenger trial with a franchised train operator will take place early next year.
So what has this got to do with us?
Well there was an interesting letter on the Cornwall Railway Society Web Site:
“"GROCKLE TRAIN Testing in passenger service [of the 3-car Class 230 demonstrator train] will 'follow in the new year'. While Adrian Shooter would not be drawn on the location of the test service, informed sources expect it will be on First Great Western [sic] under the requirement in the Direct Award franchise agreement. Bristol-Severn Beach had been suggested as the evaluation route but FGW has settled on the Plymouth-Gunnislake branch with the unit based and maintained at Laira depot.. This is the logical choice since the Gunnislake branch will be more demanding operationally."
All very interesting!
It remains to be seen if it does indeed end up being tested down here. Its certainly a very interesting project so lets hope it gets through all its testing unscathed and the project starts to become a reality.
What do people think?