GREAT Western Railway (GWR) has announced that it has agreed contracts to acquire certain assets of British rolling stock manufacturer Vivarail, which entered administration in December.
According to GWR, the acquisition of intellectual property, rolling stock and equipment relating to the development of high-performance battery and FastCharge technology secures the future of trials due to take place on the GWR network between West Ealing and Greenford in west London.
GWR has also employed nine former Vivarail staff to support the trials and project development.
In February 2022 GWR agreed a contract with Vivarail to test its FastCharge technology under real-world conditions on the 3.8km West Ealing - Greenford branch. The project received £2.15m in funding from the Department for Transport’s Rail Network Enhancement Pipeline (RNEP).
The trial was due to take place last year using a class 230 train equipped with high-performance lithium-ion batteries. FastCharge equipment to recharge train batteries was to be installed at West Ealing station.
GWR has now purchased the class 230 battery train, and a spokesperson told IRJ that GWR is hoping to start the trial on the Greenford branch by the start of this summer.
The class 230 has a range of 100km and off-network tests have shown that its batteries can be recharged in 10 minutes.
“We’ve been working closely with the Vivarail team on this exciting project for some time, and we are delighted we have been able to step in and make sure its important work can continue,” says GWR Engineering Director, Mr Simon Green.
“There have clearly been some setbacks that mean we will need to review the existing plans and timescales, but we will continue to work with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to get the project back on track.
“This work is a key part of our commitment to reduce the carbon emissions of our train fleet with a view to removing all diesel-only traction from the network by 2040, in line with the government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan.”