Could this be a First? Recycling London Underground Trains.
Originally published by Nick Hollinghurst - promoting social democracy as a Liberal Democrat and working for a greener world!
Actually not. There's a well developed second-hand trade in refurbished or adapted locomotives and occasionally multiple unit sets. For example, in 1966 six 4-car sets and six 3-car sets of London Underground stock built in 1923 were converted for use on the Isle of Wight Line and again in 1989 nine 2-car sets of 1938 London Underground vintage stock was modified, refurbished and also put to use on the Isle of Wight.
However this latest scheme is larger than previous recycling ventures and the company carrying out the work, VivaRail is offering several different versions for different types of passenfger use and with different modes of propulsion.
75 Class D78 London Underground 3-car units are being acquired. Sometimes called the "D-Trains" the series of variants is now dignified with a British Rail class designation of Class 230.
The trains will be built using the aluminium bodyshell of the D-stock trains and the present bogies that were manufactured by Bombardier less than ten years ago. Expertly inspection and independent assessment of both the bodyshell and bogies has shown them to have over 25 years of active service.
By re-using quality parts in this way Vivarail will save waste, energy, money and time and they are claiming that they are creating trains that start their lives almost carbon neutral. Recycling like this means the trains will be significantly cheaper to acquire, will have lower operating and maintainance costs and can be in service in a fraction of the time of a traditional new-build.
The Class 230 trains will be offered as diesel (DMU), electric, battery or battery hybrid multiple units with minimal changes to the base specification. A prototype DMU version has successfully completed its initial testing and approvals.
Work has now begun to build a new test train for a specific customer, but with a full range of advanced systems it will also showcase what is possible and demonstrate practicality on a variety of lines. It will simulate an EMU with on-board energy storage using lithium batteries and is designed to operate where continuous electrification is undesirable or expensive. Such battery powered trains are capable of running all day with Automatic Charging Points installed at each end of the line.
The Class 230 is designed to make simplicity of operation a key feature. When running on battery-only mode the driver merely brings the train to a stand at the stop board where a third-rail pick-up shoe automatically engages with a 2-pole supply and charging begins. When running as a DMU modular motor units can be quickly removed and replaced using a standard fork-lift so that servicing or maintenance of the of the diesel engines can take place at a nearby depot without the need to take the train out of service.
And, as recently discovered by Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, a bi-mode version could also be usefully deployed for extending operation beyond third-rail electicified sections of track. This could be useful in restoring rail services to currently unused branch lines.
This article is based on Wikipedia, press releases from VivaRail and on articles in Rail Technology Magazine