ScotRail’s refurbished HSTs
Vivarail is targeting Scottish routes such as Glasgow Queen StreetAnniesland via Maryhill for its converted London Underground D-Stock, now known as Class 230s.
Chairman Adrian Shooter revealed his company’s interest in Anniesland as it demonstrated a two-car Class 230 powered by batteries on the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway on October 11.
Vivarail says it can offer Class 230s with different power options. Last month it delivered to Bletchley Depot the first of three two-car diesel electric units that will be used on the line to Bedford from December, while it has orders for five three-car units for the new Welsh franchise - these trains are set to carry passengers from next summer on three routes: Wrexham-Bidston, Conwy Valley and Chester-Crewe.
Class 230s might also appear on the Isle of Wight. Shooter said that South Western Railway operator FirstGroup/MTR had recommended to the Department for Transport that the island receive five two-car electric units to replace its 80-year-old former Tube trains.
HITRANS Partnership Manager Frank Roach told RAIL that he was keen to interest Transport Scotland in using battery Class 230s to run shuttle services between Wick and Thurso.
In addition, Shooter revealed that Vivarail had sold two two-car battery Class 230s to be used in California. Asked where they would be used, Shooter declined to comment beyond saying that Vivarail shareholder Henry Posner III had railroad interests in the US.
Shooter explained that three-car Class 230s could comprise driving vehicles equipped with batteries and traction motors sitting either side of a centre car that could contain diesel generator sets or a pantograph and transformer. The latter option gives a Class 230 bi-mode capability, making it suitable for lines such as that through Maryhill because it is only partially electrified. Future developments could include fitting the centre car with hydrogen fuel cells.
Vivarail Engineering Consultant Pete Mason told RAIL that the company planned to build a prototype rapid charging facility at its Long Marston base that would use short sections of third rail to quickly recharge a Class 230’s batteries. He said the third-rail shoegear fitted to the trains in their London Underground service could handle higher currents than simply plugging a cable into the train.
The rapid charging concept consists of a shipping container of batteries that are trickle charged from a mains supply. When a Class 230 sits over the short sections of third-rail, electricity can be quickly transferred to the train’s batteries. When the train is away, the power rails are earthed to ensure they pose no risk. The concept provides for charging a Class 230 as it pauses at a terminus before making its return journey.
Class 230s can run at up to 60mph, and Vivarail claims acceleration similar to that of EMUs up to 40mph courtesy of their batteries.
Vivarail’s demonstration runs at Bo’ness are not the first time a battery multiple unit has run in Scotland.
British Rail ran a two-car experimental unit between Aberdeen and Ballater for several years from 1958 - BR’s two-car unit contained lead-acid batteries weighing 17 tons. Vivarail’s twocar battery units contains four 100kWh lithium-ion battery rafts, each weighing 1.2 tonnes.
Vivarail 230002 stands at Bo’ness on October 10, the first day the battery-powered train began carrying passengers on the heritage line.