David King, Engineering Director, explains our plans for 2017 and beyond …

I’ve always relished the challenges of the rail industry– and I’ve certainly come across a few in my time.

I spent many years working in Hong Kong, closely involved in some of the most exciting rail projects of the last 20 years (or so!).  So when people ask me why I wanted to work on the D-Trains that is my answer: I consider this to be one of the most innovative projects of the day.

It would be easy to think that our conversion plans were pretty simple – after all others have done similar over the years – but we knew there was a better way.  So we set about designing a modular train.

We removed all the heavy old electro-mechanical gear replacing it with clean, modern, high tech equipment.  Our Class 230 DMU is equipped with 2 gensets to each power car, neatly housed in a detachable module.   These modules make train maintenance particularly easy – they can be removed simply and quickly with a forklift allowing work to be done trackside to a large degree.

However they also allow us to use a variety of power sources without any change to the base design.

We recently unveiled our battery train, where the batteries are housed in exactly the same framework as the gensets on our DMU.  By working to this identical design we can keep costs low and build-time fast – each different type of train can be assembled to much the same process so our technicians are able to speedily build a variety of trains for different customers.

Of course it also means we can build EMUs and hybrids with ease – and looking to the future there is no reason why fuel cells couldn’t be used.  Indeed a train running on batteries now could swap over to fuel cells as the technology develops.  After all the D-Train has a forecast life of 25+ years so it makes sense to future-proof its design!

We have had some sleepless nights getting this far, but what’s life without a challenge? Personally I wouldn’t have it any other way!