Vivarail, the designers and manufacturers of the Class 230 DEMU, today announces new investment to develop their ground-breaking battery D-Train.

The Accelerating Innovation in Rail grant competition is run by Innovate UK and Vivarail’s success recognises the huge strides the company has already made in developing battery technology for the rail industry.

Vivarail is on track to be the first UK manufacturer to build production battery trains.  Currently the company forecast battery trains ready for service can be delivered from early 2018.  The company has been able to move so quickly due to the modular build of the D-Train.  Each train needs 750 volts of power which can be supplied in a variety of ways:

  • Battery
  • DMU (as per the Class 230 prototype now approved for mainline passenger service)
  • EMU

Or as a hybrid version of the above

Adrian Shooter, CEO of Vivarail, said “When I set up Vivarail 4 years ago it was with the aim of providing a low cost, high quality train to provide much-needed rolling stock for the UK’s growing rail market.

“From the very start I planned that the D-Train would take advantage of new and developing technologies – for example our diesel units use automotive technology because millions of pounds have been spent by car manufacturers to reduce emissions, increase reliability and bring down costs.  To me it seemed foolish not to transfer that knowledge into rail.

“Battery trains are not new – they were running over 100 years ago!  However the batteries of today offer so much more in terms of reliability, range, safety and environmental benefits.  They also provide an alternative to electrification.  Our EMU/battery hybrid train will be able to make use of existing overhead lines or sections of 3rd rail for charging the battery during the journey, or a diesel/battery hybrid could use the engines as range extenders.  We are also working with other market-leading experts to develop charging points where the train can draw power to recharge the batteries whilst stopped.  By providing this suite of options we can make sure each train we provide is able to take advantage of the specific line where it will operate.

“Our tests show that the train is able to run for 80 miles before requiring a recharge.  Of course that would not be done in a real-life scenario but it is easy to see that as a hybrid with range extenders the battery train is already very able to run on many lines across the country.

“As a small British company we have to spend our pennies wisely but that does not mean cutting corners.  Where we believe in something then we will invest our time and money in it, and because we are small and flexible we are able to act swiftly.

“Receiving this grant will mean we are able to use the expertise we have already built up to continue leading the market in bringing these exciting new trains into service in the very near future.  We are currently on track to produce a battery train fully certified and ready for passenger service by the end of this year.”