The Anonymous Widower

Vivarail Reveals New D-Trains Will Be Available In 2018

This is the title of an article in Rail Magazine.

I don’t know about the Class 230 train.

It could be an interesting concept, but when I read my brochure of the Class 319 Flex train, I fear it has got very strong competition.

  • The 319 Flex, is a true 100 mph bi-mode train.
  • There are 86 Class 319 trains, that could be converted.
  • The Class 319 train has proven reliability.
  • There is a large volume of knowledge about refurbishing, upgrading and converting Class 319 trains.
  • Four 319 Flex trains will be available this year.

If more trains to convert are needed, there are other classes.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Along The Avocet Line

I took these pictures on a trip from Exeter to Exmouth and back on the Avocet Line.

These are my thoughts under various topics.


Exmouth reminded me of the seaside town, where I spent a fair bit of my childhood; Felixstowe.

  • They are both coastal towns.
  • Exmouth has the larger population of 34,400 to Felixstowe’s 23,000.
  • Both have adequate shopping centres, although Exmouth has a large Marks and Spencer Simply Food by the station.

I didn’t get to the beach.

The Starcross And Exmouth Ferry

There is a ferry between Starcross station and Exmouth, which seems to be well used.

Exmouth Station And The Train Service

Exmouth station was rebuilt in 1986 and it is a one-platform station with facilities and a large Marks and Spencer Simply Food.

The only problem is the trains themselves, as their frequency, which is generally two trains per hour, is acceptable.

But two Class 143 trains coupled together is inadequate, for a summer’s day when passengers have buggies, bicycles and lots of young children.

Monkerton Station

Monkerton station is a proposed new station on the Avocet Line, that would be built between Polsloe Bridge and Digby & Sowton.

The Seaside Special

Exmouth station and the Avocet Line powerfully makes the case for a Seaside Special train.

  • Four cars.
  • Independently-powered by diesel or perhaps batteries in the future.
  • A range of perhaps thirty miles.
  • Lots of space for buggies, bicycles and large suitcases.
  • Step-across access between platform and train.

I’m sure Greater Anglia and Great Western Railway, with help from other train operating companies could come up with workable specification.

Get the specification right and it might be the short distance commuter train, where a proportion of passengers want to bring bicycles.

With the current developments in train refurbishment, the new Class 319 Flex and Class 230 trains might be the place to start.




April 7, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Business As Usual: Vivarail Begins Testing Of New Battery Train

The title of this post is taken from this article in Rail Technology Magazine.

So it would appear that Class 230 trains are now running on batteries.

Apparently you can swap batteries for diesel power-packs.

The train certainly has a low-cost paint job!

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Vivarail Lays Out Action Plan As Faulty Repair Work To Blame For Train Fire

The title of this post is the title of an article on the Rail Technology Magazine web site.

This is the first paragraph.

Vivarail has released its full report on the Class 230 test train fire that took place over the festive period, concluding that the cause of the fire was due to a fuel leak in one of the train’s gensets, likely caused during recent repair work.

I have no experience of diesel engine design, except what I picked up, when Cummins were a customer., where they used my software to analyse production and testing statistics.

But fuel leaks do happen and normally, they don’t cause fires.

I can remember Cummins being very strict about any leaks of sll sorts on their engines.

February 2, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Vivarail Reveals Hybrid Train

This is the title of this article on the Rail Magazine web site.

Vivarail have said that battery-powered and diesel hybrid versions have entered development.

This is probably sensible given the way that train design seems to be going.


February 1, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment

Modern Trains From Old

In the February 2017 Edition of Modern Railways, there  are several articles about the updating of old trains to a modern standard.

There was also an article about the revival of locomotive hauled trains called Long Live The Loco!

The Class 321 Renatus

Note the following about the Class 321 trains.

  • There are a total of 117 of the four-car trains.
  • ,The trains have a 100 mph capability.
  • Many of them are in need of a refurbishment after nearly thirty years in service.

So train leasing company; Eversholt, has come up with a plan to create thirty Class 321 Renatus for Greater Anglia as a stop-gap until their new Aventras arrive in a couple of years time.

The updated trains will feature.

  • New air-conditioning and heating systems
  • New, safer seating throughout
  • Larger vestibules for improved boarding and alighting
  • Wi-Fi enabled for passengers and operator
  • Improved space allocation for buggies, bicycles and luggage
  • Passenger power sockets throughout
  • New, energy efficient lighting
  • One PRM compliant toilet and a second controlled emission toilet on each unit
  • Complete renewal and remodelling of all interior surfaces

The trains will also be given an updated traction package, which is described on this page on the Vossloh Kiepe web site.

This is said.

In 2013, Eversholt Rail and Vossloh Kiepe embarked on the pre-series project to demonstrate modern AC traction on a Class 321 unit. The key objectives were to reduce journey time for passengers, improve reliability and maintainability, and reduce the total cost of operation through a combination of reduced energy consumption and regenerative braking.

The prototype certainly looks good in the pictures.

Eversholt is stated as believing that if the market likes these trains, then other operators could be interested and other trains might be converted.

The Class 319 Flex

I like this concept and I wrote about the Class 319 Flex in Porterbrook Launch A Tri-Mode Train.

I felt one of the first routes would to be to Windermere and Modern Railways says the same.

Northern are quoted as saying, that after the concept is proven, the trains will be made available to a wide range of operators.


  • There are 86 of the four-car units.
  • They are 100 mph trains.
  • They are Mark 3-based, so ride well.
  • They can work on 750 VDC or 25 KVAC electrification.
  • With diesel alternators, they can go virtually anywhere.

If the trains are a success, I think we’ll be very surprised as to the routes they work.

I also think that Porterbrook could keep a small fleet ready for immediate lease for the purposes, like the following.

  • Proving the economics of new routes.
  • Blockade busting.
  • Extra capacity for special events.
  • Replacement capacity after train problems or accidents.

I suspect Porterbrook have got lots of ideas. Some of which could be quite wacky!

Bi-Modus Operandi

This is the title of an article by Ian Walmsley in the magazine, who makes the case for adding an extra coach with a pantograph to the Class 220, 221 and 222 and effectively creating a bi-mode train.

The idea is not new and I wrote about it in The Part-Time Electric Train, after a long editorial comment in Modern Railways in 2010.

If anything, the case for convcersion is even better now, as quality high-speed bi-mode trains are desperately needed.

As the article suggests, they could sort out some of the other problems with the trains.

There are quite a few suitable trains.

  • Class 220 trains – 34 trains of four cars.
  • Class 221 trains – 43 trains of a mix of four and five cars.
  • Class 222 trains – 27 trains of a mix of four, five and seven cars.

All are 125 mph trains.

The Vivarail Class 230 Train

The magazine also has an extensive report on the fire in a Class 230 train.

The report says that the definitive report will be published before the end of January, but on reading the detailed report of the damage, I think it will be some months before the rebuilt train is ready to roll.

In a post entitled Class 230 And Class 319 Flex Fight It Out, I came to this conclusion.

Vivarail will have a struggle to sell large numbers of trains, against a larger, faster, more capable train of proven reliability.

I stand by what I said.

Long Live The Loco!

This article describes the various uses of locomotive-hauled passenger trains on the UK rail network.

The title could be read another way, as it talks about the following locomotives.

Some could not be considered modern, but they perform.

The article goes on to detail how TransPennine Express will use their new Mark 5A carriages.

  • Wikipedia says each set will be composed of 1 first class car, 2 Standard class cars, 1 brake standard class car and a standard class driving trailer.
  • Sets will be able to be lengthened if required.
  • The trains will be worked push-pull between a Class 68 locomotive and a driving trailer.
  • The coaches will have a 125 mph design speed for future-proofing reasons.

It is also said, that a Class 88 locomotive is not powerful enough under diesel power to operate on the TransPennine route.

So the article speculates, that there may be a place for  a bi-mode locomotive with full diesel capability, given the success of the Hitachi bi-mode concept.

The article finishes by saying that as Chiltern and TransPennine have shown that push-pull operation is viable, could the concept become more widespread?






January 26, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Class 230 And Class 319 Flex Fight It Out

The Class 319 Flex train and the Class 230 train share a lot of objectives.

  • They involve re manufacturing of redundant trains.
  • They feature new interiors.
  • They feature on-board diesel power-packs.
  • They would be capable of serving short to medium routes.

Some advantages of the Class 319 Flex are.

  • The ability to work on all main lines with electrification in the UK.
  • The trains have proven fairly reliable and they are getting more so, according to Modern Railways.
  • The trains are based on Mark 3 coaches, so are as tough as teak.
  • There are a total of 86 trains of which 47 are yet to be released by Thameslink.
  • The Class 319 is already certified for main line running at 100 mph.
  • Those behind the project have very deep pockets.

As an Electrical and Control Engineer, Ifeel that fitting the power packs under a Class 319, would be easier than on a Class 230.

I also think that a modified hybrid bus power unit could be used. The diesel engine would charge a battery, which then feeds into the main electrical bus as required. The battery could also be charged from the overhead wires or third rail.

A decent control system linked to a pantograph that could raise and lower at line speed automatically, could have great fun getting from A to B, using the smallest possible amount of diesel.

But the biggest problem for the Class 230 is the fire it suffered, which is described in this article on the BBC.

Since then because of time issues with the new London Midland Franchise, the Local Authorities, who were backing the trial on the Coventry to Nuneaton Line have backed out of the project.

As this came just eight days after Porterbrook announced the Class 319 Flex, the timing couldn’t have been worse.

London Midland must be a prime target for a Class 319 Flex.

  • They already run seven Class 319 trains.
  • They need a 100 mph train for running on the West Coast Main Line.
  • The train would be ideal for extending some of their routes over perhaps a dozen miles.
  • If the trains had a hybrid transmission, Routes like NUCKLE (Nuneaton – Coventry – Kenilworth – Leamington Spa) could be handled.
  • Extra services from London to new destinations without electrification, might be possible.

There are probably other companies on Porterbrook’s list of prospects.


Vivarail will have a struggle to sell large numbers of trains, against a larger, faster, more capable train of proven reliability.

January 10, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Prototype Class 230 Train Catches Fire

This article on the BBC is entitled Ten evacuated as Kenilworth train catches fire.

It is a blow to the project to create a Class 230 train from redundant London Underground D78 Stock. Until the cause of the fire is known, I won’t comment.

December 30, 2016 Posted by | Travel | | Leave a comment

Class 230 Train Is Delayed

This article from Rail Technology Magazine is entitled Vivarail trial start date delayed from October to February.

The article goes on to say there are problems with the approval process.

There are now three new types of trains, that appear to be late in appearing in public service.

  • Vivarail’s Class 230 train.
  • The Class 399 tram/train in Sheffield.
  • Bombardier’s first production train with on-board energy storage.

The delays may all be for different reasons, but could a problem like a shortage of properly qualified approval staff be a common cause.

December 3, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , | 3 Comments

In Pursuit Of The Perfect Train Design

This is the title of an article in Rail Technology Magazine, in which Adrian Shooter, the chair of Vivarail discusses their Class 230 train, which is soon to go into trial service on the Coventry to Nuneaton Line.

The article is certainly worth reading.

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Travel | , | Leave a comment