Vivarail: designing and building low-emission trains for the UK

Presenter: David Horton

Our first indoor meeting for over 18 months saw a healthy attendance of around 20 members enjoy an insightful talk about Vivarail from its Chief Mechanical Engineer, David Horton. Mr Horton has been with Vivarail since late 2018 having previously worked on bogie design with Bombardier, in the maintenance department with East Midlands Trains and a brief interval with the West Somerset Railway.

Mr Horton outlined the benefits of electrification and the efficiency of electric operation compared to other energy sources. He outlined how Vivarail are currently developing battery operation using fast charging technology which needs minimal infrastructure. This seems ideally suited to short branch lines where more expensive overhead electrification would be impractical.

Mr Horton reviewed the progress made with the Class 230, a conversion of D78 underground stock, for mainline operation. This was of particular interest to our branch audience, with the units being deployed on the Bletchley to Bedford branch. Further 230s are due to be delivered to Transport for Wales and we had a detailed look at the electric variant Class 484 soon to start in service on the Isle of Wight.

Interest in the Class 230 spreads beyond the UK with 230002 in the USA being used to demonstrate the possibility of ‘pop-up’ metro style services on freight only lines. The prototype, 230001, will be on display at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow demonstrating the possibility of battery powered operation.

At the end of his presentation, Mr Horton answered several questions from the audience, concluding a thoroughly interesting and informative evening.