The Anonymous Widower

Vivarail And Hoppecke Announce Long-term Supply Of Batteries For Class 230s

The title of this post is the same as that of a press release from Vivarail.

Some extracts.

A 3-car Class 230 can run for 65 miles between charges which means they are more than able to operate numerous routes throughout the UK, and active conversations are taking place with interested operators. Battery trains enable emission-free rail travel in areas where electrification is either non- or only partially existent. The trains are particularly suited to urban routes where authorities wish to eliminate pollution caused by traditional DMUs as well as scenic lines where the natural environment needs protecting.

A Sixty-five mile range is very respectable and a good start.

Currently Vivarail is building a fleet of diesel/battery hybrids to operate the Wrexham-Bidston line for Transport for Wales, where the diesel gensets will be used to charge the batteries not to power the train. This power variant gives the range of a diesel train, the performance of an EMU (with acceleration of 1m p/s/s up to 40 miles per hour) and combines it with emission-free travel. As well as using the genset to charge the batteries the train also has regenerative braking – as do all the battery trains.

The acceleration is up there with a Class 345 train.

Hoppecke’s Lithium Ion batteries are ideally suited for the Class 230s by providing the rapid charging needed for battery trains. Simulations and performance data show that many non-electrified routes can be operated by the Class 230 battery trains and to make this possible in the short-term Vivarail has designed and patented an automatic charging system and battery bank. This means that costs of both infrastructure upgrades and daily operation are hugely minimised – in some cases by millions of pounds.

The batteries will probably be fairly traditional, but reading about Hoppecke on the web, they seem to be a company that believes in service. They also seem to supply back-up power supplies for critical infrastructure like telecommunications and computing.

Note too, that Vivarail have patented their charging system.

Designs for other types of hybrid trains exist including the use of existing OHL with a pantograph and transformer and 3rd rail with shoegear. Additionally, a new hydrogen variant is being developed which, similarly to the diesel hybrid, will exceed the pure battery train’s range of 65 miles.

Other power sources could be added, when they are invented.

A Serial Hybrid Train

The Class 230 trains for Wales are actually serial hybrids, just like one of London’s Routemaster buses. As the Press Release says, the generator set charges the batteries and these drive the train.

In the Press Release the following methods are mentioned for charging the batteries.

  • Diesel generators on the train.
  • Static charging systems at stations.
  • Regenerative braking.
  • 25 KVAC overhead line electrification.
  • 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Vivarail have split the control systems into two-more or-less independent systems; one keeps the batteries charged up in an optimal manner and the other links the batteries to the train’s systems and traction motors.

I also suspect that Bombardier’s proposed 125 mph Aventra With Batteries is a serial hybrid.


Is there anything recycled London Underground trains can’t do?

I have read somewhere, that Vivarail have talked about on-board self-service coffee machines!

December 15, 2018 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,


  1. rumour has it they’re working on a version with wings 🙂

    Comment by Peter Robins | December 15, 2018 | Reply

  2. more on the batteries and fast charging system in Vivarail’s latest news item Interesting to see they’re using a similar 3rd-rail system to Alstom’s trams, where the rail is only live when the train is over it, so there’s no danger of anyone being electrocuted. 7 minutes recharge is pretty good for lithium-ion, and should be plenty for many train turn-around times.

    Comment by Peter Robins | March 18, 2019 | Reply

    • We are wrong to ignore third-rail electrification.

      It has advantages.

      1. Trains can automatically connect and disconnect at quite fast line speeds. There must be examples, where it is done at 100 mph at a level crossing.

      2. It has less visual impact and could be installed on top of Listed viaducts without anybody objecting.

      3. It stands up to high winds well.

      4. The technology is proven.

      5. It doesn’t need bridges and overhead structures to be raised.

      6. It can be easily-powered by solar or wind power.

      It is just another tool in making electrification more affordable, especially when clever systems can switch it on, only when it is in contact with a train.

      Comment by AnonW | March 18, 2019 | Reply

      • yeah, and 60 miles is actually quite long compared to the sort of local/regional lines Vivarail’s trains are likely to operate on, Bidston-Wrexham and back, for example. There must be a large number of such lines around the country.

        Comment by Peter Robins | March 18, 2019

      • What Bivarail need to do is develop the charging stations so they can be quickly installed and removed. I am writing this post on the platform at Harringay Green Lanes station, where the new Class 710 trains have been delayed due to software issues. A charging station at Gospel Oak and Barking in bay platforms could powerClass 230 trains, that would shuttle all day!

        Comment by AnonW | March 18, 2019

      • I’m not sure how compatible their charging stations are with other batteries, but if they can manage that and then license them to other manufacturers, that would be great. Vivarail are too small to make much difference on their own, but if they can serve as a prototype which others, for example, the leasing companies, can imitate, I think this sort of operation can become widespread reasonably quickly. The important thing at the moment is to demonstrate to operators that the technology is viable for running day-to-day services, which will happen once these D78s are in use on 1 or more lines.

        Comment by Peter Robins | March 18, 2019

      • Adrian Shooter is a smart guy and I suspect that if Bombardier wanted to use Vivarail’s technology, it would be available at the right price.

        Good ideas attract three things; money, sales and others wanting to use them.

        If Vivarail shows it working on a problem line like the Greenford Branch, the world will beat a path to their door.

        Comment by AnonW | March 18, 2019

  3. there’s a bit more on Hoppecke’s pitch at Railtex Confirms that their storage system can ‘pump’ 1MW of power into a battery in 8 mins, enough for 65 miles.

    Comment by Peter Robins | May 29, 2019 | Reply

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