ScotRail’s re­fur­bished HSTs

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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.

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