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British Rail Class 230

British Rail Class 230 "D-Train"
Manufacturer Metro-Cammell
Vivarail (conversion)
Constructed 1979-1983
2015– (conversion)
Number built 1 trainset
Formation 2 or 3 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers 230001 -
Car body construction Aluminium
Car length 18.37 m (60 ft 3 in) DM
18.12 m (59 ft 5 in) other
Width 2.85 m (9 ft 4 in)
Maximum speed 60 mph (97 km/h)
Prime mover(s) Ford Duratorq
Power output 400 hp (300 kW) per car
Safety system(s) AWS, TPWS

The British Rail Class 230 or D-train is a planned Vivarail design diesel electric multiple unit to be built for the British rail network. The units will be converted from London Underground D78 Stock.

It is proposed to run 75 units of two or three cars per unit.[1][2] They will become known as Class 230 under TOPS.[3] A prototype was produced for testing and accreditation in August 2015, with introduction to service in 2016.[4] They are to be tested in mainline service on the First Great Western network.[5]


  • D78 Stock conversion 1
    • Overview 1.1
    • Marketing 1.2
    • Advantages and disadvantages 1.3
    • Potential customers 1.4
  • See also 2
  • References 3

D78 Stock conversion

London Underground D78 Stock, which Vivarail plans to refurbish

In November 2014, Vivarail bid for, and successfully bought, 150 driving motor cars and 300 carriages of ex-District Line D78 Stock from London Underground, which were being replaced by S Stock, so that the subsurface lines (Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan) could have a common rolling stock fleet compatible with a new ATO system. The stated purpose of the D-train is to ameliorate a perceived shortage of affordable, modern rolling stock on Britain's regional rail routes, resulting from the slow pace of electrification.[6]


In the conversion programme, the company plans to re-use the aluminium bodyshells, traction motors and bogies from the D78 units, and fit them out with new diesel engines and interiors. Rail Magazine reports that each power car will have two underfloor engine-generator sets. The 3.2 litre, five cylinder diesel engines will be made by Ford in South Africa. Vivarail claims that fuel consumption will be around 0.5 litre per car per mile. This is about half the fuel consumption of a Pacer. Maximum speed will be 60 mph (97 km/h).[7]

The first D78 units were delivered to Vivarail on 19 January 2015. The units are being converted into a three-car prototype that will then run on Vivarail's 4-kilometre (2.5 mi) test track in summer 2015, with the aim of winning approval to run the units on Network Rail track in the autumn.[8][9]


Vivarail have stated that they plan to pitch the converted trains to a number of train operating companies (TOCs), especially those bidding for the Northern Rail franchise coming up for tender on 1 April 2016.[8] They are positioning them as a cost-effective alternative to buying brand new rolling stock, enabling TOCs to replace the "Pacer" railbuses in the North of England with upcycled Tube stock. However, the wording of the Invitation for Tender for the next Northern franchise released on 27 February 2015 seems to suggest converted D78s cannot be used, as it states only the following types of self-powered trains can be used by Northern post-December 2019:

"Pacer" railbuses in the North of England, Wales and South West England that Vivarail D-trains intend to replace or supplement.

However, while the government has specified that the intended 120 vehicles in the ITT for Northern must be new build and not converted, the plan is to remove more than 200 Pacer vehicles from the franchise; additionally, the ITT does not mention the continued issue of providing longer trains for routes in the North. According to Vivarail, this allows them to remain in the market to provide units for Northern.[11]

Advantages and disadvantages

The proposal has been criticised by the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) as a scheme to provide "second-hand" trains to the region instead of new stock.[12] Nevertheless, their low cost allows for more to be ordered and they were built and will be upgraded in Britain, unlike most new stock. They are also built of aluminium, making them immune from corrosion, and, having undergone recent major refurbishment, are in good condition and have relatively new bogies. The D-Train meets all current standards up to and including the 2020 PRM-TSI regulations, which the Pacer railbuses do not. The trains are more environmentally friendly, due to stop-start diesel engine technology, light-weight build and up-cycling of the majority of the cars. The upgrading will also take a much shorter time than would be the case of planning and building trains from scratch.

Potential customers

In May 2015, it was claimed Arriva Trains Wales are to open talks with Vivarail over taking on converted D78s.[13] Under a recent franchise agreement, FirstGroup (owner of the Great Western Railway franchise) has agreed to carry out a study on the use of overhauled Vivarail D-Trains on branch lines by the end of the year, possibly leading to a trial of the units.[14]

In September 2015 it was revealed that Coventry City Council were looking into the possibility of using converted D78s to run extra services on the Coventry to Nuneaton Line; this would be especially useful to serve Coventry Arena station during match days at the Ricoh Arena, to alleviate a shortage of rolling stock.[15]

See also

Former London Underground electrical multiple units which were repurposed for use on the Isle of Wight Island Line:


  1. ^ D78 Stock Conversion is Go Modern Railways December 2014 pages 37-38
  2. ^ "Vivarail Homepage". Vivarail. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Sam McCaffrey (2015-05-01). "‘They don’t make trains like this anymore’". Rail Technology Magazine. Retrieved 2015-05-17. 
  4. ^ The Engineer
  5. ^ First Great Western Direct Award
  6. ^ Gurdon, Martin (16 January 2015). "Back on the rails". The Engineer. Centaur Media. 
  7. ^ Johnson, James (2 September 2015). "Vivarail begins testing on first converted D-stock". Rail Magazine (Peterborough, England: Bauer Media) (782): 6–7. 
  8. ^ a b Browne, Stefanie (15 January 2015). "Vivarail ready to start converting first LU D-Stock". Bauer Consumer Media. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Vivarail | delivering local rail solutions.". Retrieved 2015-05-09. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Browne, Stefanie (1 April 2015). "Viva Vivarail’s D-train transformation!". Rail Magazine. Bauer Media. Retrieved 28 September 2015. 
  12. ^ "Plan for old London trains in North attacked by union". BBC News. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Abbott, James. "Swindon first- Other GW progress anyone's bet".  
  15. ^ "London Underground tube trains could be used to sort Ricoh Arena station fiasco". Coventry Telegraph. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
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