British Rail Class 230

The British Rail Class 230 D-Train is a diesel electric multiple unit or battery EMU built by rolling stock manufacturer Vivarail for the British rail network. The units are converted from old London Underground D78 Stock, originally manufactured in 1980 by Metro-Cammell. The conversion re-uses the D78's aluminium bodyshells with new interiors. It runs on the same bogies but these are rebuilt to as-new standard by Wabtec and fitted with brand new three-phase AC induction motors sourced from Austria. The initial build of three vehicles for London Northwestern Railway replaces the four-rail traction-current system with four diesel gen-sets, driving eight traction motors via purpose built electronic traction control units.

British Rail Class 230 D-Train
Class 230 at Bedford 1.jpg
Class230 WMT Interior.jpg
Interior of a London Northwestern Railway unit
In service28 January 1980 – 21 April 2017 (as D78 Stock)
23 April 2019 - present
Vivarail (conversion)
Family nameD-Train
ReplacedClass 150
Class 153
Converted: 2015–present
Number built10 units
Number in service3 (LNWR)
Formation2 or 3 cars per trainset
Fleet numbers230001–230010
Operator(s)London Northwestern Railway
Transport for Wales Rail (Under Training)
Car body constructionAluminium
Car lengthDriving Motor: 18.37 m (60 ft 3 in)
Other: 18.12 m (59 ft 5 in)
Width2.85 m (9 ft 4 in)
Maximum speed60 mph (97 km/h)
Prime mover(s)Ford Duratorq (two per car on 2-car unit; four per 3-car unit)
Engine type3.2-litre (200 cu in) turbo-diesel
Cylinder count5
Traction motorsTraktionssysteme Austria AC
Power output200 hp (150 kW) per engine (800 hp (600 kW) per unit)
Safety system(s)AWS, TPWS
Coupling systemWedgelock

In this configuration, every wheel is driven and all are braked by a computer-controlled blended reactive/pneumatic braking system, allowing for optimum braking performance in all weather conditions.

The type has been assigned the designation of Class 230 under TOPS.[1]

During August 2016, a prototype was produced for testing and accreditation; the type was planned to be prepared to enter passenger service during the following year.[2] During July 2016, it was announced that the prototype was to be tested in mainline service on the Coventry to Nuneaton Line over a 12-month period with operator London Midland;[3] however, this trial deployment had to be postponed after the prototype was damaged by a fire and could not be repaired quickly enough.[4] It is proposed that up to 75 units may be converted, with each unit consisting of two or three cars.[5][6] During October 2017, West Midlands Trains announced that it would procure three 2-car D-Trains for the Marston Vale line[7] and the first unit entered service in April 2019.[8]


Pre-conversion London Underground D78 Stock at West Ham station.

During November 2014, Vivarail purchased 150 driving motor cars and 300 carriages of London Underground D78 Stock, which has been replaced by S Stock before the end of their lifespan, 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.[9] In the conversion programme, the company re-uses the aluminium bodyshells, traction motors and bogies from the D78 units, and fits them out with new diesel engines and interiors.[10][11]

Two prototype units are being operated by Vivarail, designated as 230001 and 230002.[12] The diesel-electric multiple unit (DEMU) 230001 is a three-car unit; each of these is outfitted with passenger fitting and fixtures, including seats, tables, a single toilet, onboard Wi-Fi, and electrical charging points. 230001 retains the original Brush DC traction motors, however future units will make use of TSA AC motors.

Unit 230002, which was completed during 2018, is a battery electric multiple unit, designed for operating on partially electrified routes.[12] It features four 106 kWh battery rafts, which provide for an operational range of 40 miles (64 km), requiring an eight-minute charge after each journey. The battery-powered train can be charged through an automatic charging point. Alternative means of charging the two-car vehicle include the use of a static battery bank to provide an electric supply of either 11 kV or 33 kV. Reportedly, the train requires a minimum of 750 V to operate.[12]

The first D78 units were delivered to Vivarail on 19 January 2015; conversion of a single car prototype to facilitate testing and marketing activities commenced shortly thereafter.[13] By summer 2016, this prototype have been completed and was running live tests upon Vivarail's own 2.5-mile (4.0 km) test track.[14][15] During November 2016, main line testing of the units began, the prototype unit being based at the Tyseley Locomotive Works while it was operating to and from Leamington Spa railway station.[16] In December 2016 one of the units caught fire during testing, leading to the postponement of further trials.[17] During March 2017, it was announced that testing of the battery-powered demonstrator had commenced at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre.[18] In February 2018, Vivarail announced that its first two-car battery unit was approaching completion and was projected to run on the main line network during that summer.[19]

The first unit entered service with West Midlands Trains (as London Northwestern Railway) on 23 April 2019.[8] almost exactly two years after the last D78 Stock ran on the London Underground on 21 April 2017.[20]


The Class 230 D-Train is a family of trains, functioning either as a diesel electric multiple unit or a battery EMU dependent upon the configuration used, developed and produced by Vivarail for use on the National Rail network.[12] According to the manufacturer, it is to be available in different layouts with various amenities, which are to be configured in order to conform with the specific requirements of a given operator to better adapt the vehicle for its operating environment. In general, the D-Train is to be fitted with accessible toilets, refreshment trolleys, at-seat tables, Wi-Fi, smart storage solutions[buzzword] and iPad holders.[12] Rail Magazine reports that each car is furnished with two underfloor engine-generator sets; Vivarail has claimed that the fuel consumption is roughly 0.5 litre per car per mile (7.5 miles per gallon per car); this is about half the fuel consumption of a Pacer. That information applies to two-car units; three-car units instead have four gensets in the centre car and none in the driving cars. The maximum speed is 60 mph (97 km/h).[10]

When adapted to its City configuration, a single D-Train would operate as either two- and three-cars per unit.[12] The two-car vehicle is to be configured to accommodate 86 seats per unit and, including standing room, provides for a total passenger capacity of 188. The three-car vehicle, when fitted with 140 longitudinal seats, will have a total passenger capacity of 294, including those standing.[12] For the Country layout, each D-train unit is to be a three-car formation, which would accommodate 163 seats along with a total capacity of 291. In its Commuter variant, the D-Train features either two and three cars per unit.[12] The two-car vehicle accommodates 114 mixed-type seats for a total carrying capacity of 188 passengers. The three-car vehicle, furnished with 172 longitudinal seats, accommodated up to 297 passengers, while the three-car vehicle with 154 transverse seats will carry 147 standing passengers additionally.[12]

The construction practices for producing the D-Train have been promoted as being carbon-neutral as a result of deliberate efforts to reduce the levels of waste, energy consumption, time and costs involved.[12] Much of the savings has been attributed to the reuse of many high-quality elements of the original D-stock rolling stock. Emission-reduction measures have been taken, including the adoption of a diesel engine that incorporates a stop-start system, while the use of trackside maintenance practices has been promoted as contributing to meaningful empty mileage fuel savings as well as lessening its impact upon the environment.[12] The manufacturer promotes the type as being more economical to purchase, operate and maintain, and as well as for its ease of serviceability during a short duration. The D-Train has been anticipated to offer a service life in excess of 25 years.[12]

The trains themselves are former D78 Stock units, originally manufactured by Metro-Cammell of Birmingham. 150 driving motor cars and 150 intermediate trailer cars were purchased at scrap value. The bogies were supplied by Canadian rolling stock manufacturer Bombardier while the D78 Stock was in service with London Underground.[12] The 3.2 litre, five-cylinder diesel engines are manufactured by Ford in South Africa.[10] Lithium Werks (formerly Valance) is the supplier of the battery rafts, while the electronic power control systems are produced by Strukton Rail. The AC traction motors are sourced from specialist Traktionssysteme Austria. Reportedly, the design of the D-Train is compliant with current rail industry emission standards, including the applicable elements of its automotive technology.[12]



Class 142 & 143 Pacers that Vivarail D-trains were intended to replace

Vivarail stated that it planned to pitch the converted trains to a number of train operating companies (TOCs), especially those bidding for the Northern franchise which was awarded in December 2015.[13] The company has positioned the D-Train as being a cost-effective alternative to buying brand new rolling stock, enabling TOCs to replace the Pacer railbuses in the north of England with upcycled Underground stock. However, Arriva won the bidding for the Northern franchise in December 2015 and its rolling stock plan involves purchasing brand new stock as well as taking on additional cascaded four-car EMUs.[21][22]

According to BBC Look East, Vivarail was in talks with bidders for the East Anglia franchise. However, the proposal drew criticism from the Rail Maritime and Transport Union as being a scheme to provide "second-hand" trains to the region instead of new stock.[23] While the East Anglia franchise includes some very rural routes where previously only single carriage trains were used, the successful bidder opted for new stock instead.[24]

Potential customersEdit

In May 2015, it was claimed Arriva Trains Wales was to open talks with Vivarail over taking on converted D78s.[25] Under a recent franchise agreement, FirstGroup (operator 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.[26]

During September 2015, it was revealed that Coventry City Council was looking into the possibility of using converted D78s to run additional services on the Coventry to Nuneaton Line; this would be especially useful to serve Coventry Arena station during match days at the Coventry Building Society Arena, as well as to alleviate a shortage of rolling stock.[27] London Midland subsequently announced in July 2016 its intention to run a prototype three-car set for a year-long trial on this line[28] before the prototype unit caught fire during testing which led to the trial being cancelled.[4][29]

Prototype D-train at the test track at Long Marston in Warwickshire.

In June 2016, a revived version of open access operator Go-Op was proposed to Office of Rail & Road. The proposed service would run from 2019 between Taunton and Nuneaton via Swindon and Oxford. Under the filed plans, Go-Op intended to use a number of Class 230s between Taunton and Swindon between December 2017 and 2019. However, it did not plan to operate these trains across the full route.[30][31]

In late 2017, Vivarail announced that it had sent a brochure detailing the potential of the Class 230 for use on the Valley Lines network in South Wales to the bidders for the new Wales & Borders franchise. These would be battery-powered variants, capable of recharging via 25 kV OHLE which is expected to be installed.[32] In June 2018, it was announced that successful bidder KeolisAmey Wales would purchase five units, but diesel-battery-electric and for use on the Borderlands Line between North Wales and North West England.[33][34]

During March 2018, it was announced that plans were being developed to take a Class 230 to the United States, in order to demonstrate how they could provide a low-cost rolling stock option for new passenger services.[35][36] It was revealed in late March 2021 that the unit was battery-electric unit 230002.[37] The unit was shipped to the United States by April 2021.

In October 2018, it was reported in Modern Railways magazine that South Western Railway had submitted plans to the Department for Transport to replace the 80-year-old Class 483 units with Class 230 units on its Island Line services,[38] but an announcement on 16 September 2019 confirmed that the Isle of Wight units would be Vivarail's third rail electric Class 484, which are also converted D78 stock.[39]

In February 2022, Great Western Railway announced plans to test fast-charge battery technology on the Greenford branch line. As it is a low priority to be electrified, the only realistic alternative option to replace diesel powered rolling stock is with battery powered. The test will see the existing Class 165 units replaced by Class 230 battery-electric multiple unit trains produced by Vivarail, with the company's Fast Charge equipment installed. This will entail the installation of a conductor rail that becomes live only when a train is above it. This is then used to charge the lithium-ion batteries on the train, a process that would take about ten minutes.[40]

Cost comparisonEdit

Vivarail revealed in October 2015 how the lease and ongoing costs of the Class 230 cars compare to procuring a new DMU and against existing Class 150 carriages.[41]

Comparison New DMU Class 150 Class 230
Lease rental per car per month (£) 15,000 7,500 7,000
Non-capital lease rental per car per month (£) 6,000 3,000 0
Depot maintenance per car per mile (p) 60 70 40
Fuel consumption per car per mile (litres) 0.8 0.75 0.5


West Midlands Trains (London Northwestern Railway)Edit

From December 2018, West Midlands Trains, also operating as London Northwestern Railway was intending to operate three Class 230 units on the Marston Vale Line,[42] but their introduction was delayed, entering service on the Bletchley to Bedford line on 23 April 2019.[43]

The cars in these sets have only two doors on each side.[citation needed]

Transport for WalesEdit

Transport for Wales 230007 on test in July 2020

Transport for Wales Rail will operate five units on the Borderlands Line from May 2022.[44]

Testing of the TfW units began in spring 2020 on the Kidderminster Line.[citation needed]

TfW sets have a restyled front end and retain the previous door spacing, except for the removal of one door on each side of one of the driving cars for the fitting of a universal accessible toilet, replaced by a blank panel on the toilet side and a window on the other.[citation needed]


On 30 December 2016, the prototype set caught fire at Kenilworth. Ten people were evacuated safely.[45] It was announced in January 2017 that the planned trial on the Coventry to Nuneaton line had been cancelled.[46] An incident report, produced by Vivarail, identified a fuel leak in one of the two new engine sets as the most likely cause of the fire.[47]

On 1 July 2021, a Class 230 on staff training for eventual service on the Borderlands line, caught fire near Wrexham Central.[48]

In serviceEdit

The first Class 230 service to carry passengers operated on 21 and 22 June 2017 when the prototype (230001) was used to operate a shuttle service from Honeybourne to the Rail Live exhibition at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre.[49][50]

The next train (230002), which is a battery-electric multiple unit, operated shuttles at the same location for the Rail Live 2018 event between 20–21 June. The same unit also went to the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway for a public trial to show the use of battery trains. This unit has been given a new livery (outside and inside) and is now running demonstrations of the "pop up metro" concept being developed by Posner at the Rockhill Trolley Museum in Pennsylvania, USA.[51] (Posner is part of Railroad Development Corporation and a shareholder in Vivarail.)

During October 2017, West Midlands Trains, the new holder of the West Midlands franchise, announced plans to procure three two-car D-Train units for use on the Marston Vale line from December 2018.[7][52]

The first Class 230 entered passenger service (230004) with West Midlands Trains on the Marston Vale line between Bedford and Bletchley, on 23 April 2019.[53]

Fleet detailsEdit

As of March 2017, two demonstrator units have been constructed. In October 2017, it was announced that West Midlands Trains had placed an order for three units. Initially intended to have a separate number sequence from the prototypes,[54] the production units were eventually numbered sequentially.

Class Operator Number Cars Year Built Unit nos. Type
Class 230 Vivarail 1 3 2015 230001 DEMU
Vivarail (Pop-Up Metro) 1 2 2018 230002 BEMU
West Midlands Trains[55] 3 2 2018-19 230003–005 DEMU
Transport for Wales Rail[56][57] 5 3 2020-21 230006–010[58] Diesel-Battery hybrid
Vivarail (Pop-Up Metro)[59] 1 2 2021-22 230011 BEMU

Named unitsEdit

Unit 230001 is named Viva Venturer.[60]


  1. ^ McCaffrey, Sam (1 May 2015). "'They don't make trains like this anymore'". Rail Technology Magazine. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  2. ^ Wade, Andrew (21 August 2015). "D-Railed: Old tube trains gain a new lease of life". The Engineer. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  3. ^ UK, DVV Media. "D-Train to enter service on Coventry - Nuneaton line". Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b Stephen, Paul. "Vivarail D-Train trial cancelled after fire." Rail Magazine, 11 November 2016.
  5. ^ "D78 Stock Conversion is Go." Archived 16 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine Modern Railways, December 2014. pp. 37-38.
  6. ^ "Vivarail Homepage". Vivarail. Retrieved 20 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b Gibbs, Nigel (November 2017). "Vivarail 230s for new West Mids franchise as 170s to go". Today's Railways (191): 8.
  8. ^ a b "First Class 230 begins passenger services between Bletchley and Bedford". Archived from the original on 23 April 2019.
  9. ^ Gurdon, Martin (16 January 2015). "Back on the rails". The Engineer. Centaur Media.
  10. ^ a b c Johnson, James (2 September 2015). "Vivarail begins testing on first converted D-stock". Rail Magazine. No. 782. Peterborough, England: Bauer Media. pp. 6–7.
  11. ^ "New Trains For Old: From Upminster to Upcycled – Vivarail’s D-Train." Railway Magazine, 15 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Class 230 D-Train." railway-technology, Retrieved: 13 May 2018.
  13. ^ a b Browne, Stefanie (15 January 2015). "Vivarail ready to start converting first LU D-Stock". Bauer Consumer Media. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  14. ^ Barrow, Keith. "Prototype Vivarail D-Train on test." International Rail Journal, 25 August 2015.
  15. ^ "D-Train crash test." Railway Gazette, 12 May 2015.
  16. ^ "Vivarail Class 230 to start mainline testing". Rail Technology Magazine. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  17. ^ "Vivarail test train catches fire over festive period as NUCKLE trial postponed". Rail Technology Magazine. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Business as usual: Vivarail begins testing of new battery train.", 21 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Vivarail targets summer running for new battery unit.", 21 February 2018.
  20. ^ Devereux, Nigel (3 May 2017). "FAREWELL TO THE 'D' STOCK". The Railway Magazine. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  21. ^ "Northern franchise improvements". Department for Transport. Archived from the original on 24 July 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  22. ^ Barrow, Keith (11 December 2015). "Arriva confirms Northern rolling stock plans". International Railway Journal. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  23. ^ "Plan for old London trains in North attacked by union". BBC News. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  24. ^ "Shortlist for East Anglia franchise announced". 2 June 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  25. ^ Clark, Rhodri (25 May 2015). "From Piccadilly Circus to Pontypridd: Could London Underground carriages soon be used on the Welsh railway network?". Wales Online. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  26. ^ Abbott, James. "Swindon first- Other GW progress anyone's bet". Modern Railways. p. 55.
  27. ^ "London Underground tube trains could be used to sort Ricoh Arena station fiasco". Coventry Telegraph. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  28. ^ "Recycled Tube trains to re-enter passenger service this year". Global Rail News. Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  29. ^ "D-Train project derailed as partners pull out of trial.", 10 January 2017.
  30. ^ "Go-Op! Website".
  31. ^ "Go-Op! Presents Somerset Rail Improvement Plan". 29 June 2016.
  32. ^ "Vivarail D-Trains for Wales & Borders?". Today's Railways (192): 18. December 2017.
  33. ^ "Annex" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 June 2019.
  34. ^ "Wales & Borders Overview of W&B and the South Wales Metro" (PDF). KeolisAmey Cymru. KeolisAmey Cymru. Retrieved 5 June 2018.[dead link]
  35. ^ "Vivarail D-Train to be tested in US cities". International Railway Journal. 9 March 2018. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  36. ^ "D-Train to target US transit market." Railway Gazette, 20 March 2018.
  37. ^ "RDC Operating Entities - Pop-Up Metro". Archived from the original on 31 October 2020.
  38. ^ "Class 230 trains could be on their way to the Isle of Wight". Island Echo. 10 October 2018. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  39. ^ "UKs oldest train fleet updated with 26m investment into Isle of Wights railway". 16 September 2019. Retrieved 16 September 2019.
  40. ^ "Battery train and fast charger to be tested in London". Railway Gazette. 15 February 2022. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  41. ^ "Class 230 Confounds Cynics" (PDF). RRDC. October 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  42. ^ Gibbs, Nigel (November 2017). "Vivarail 230s for new West Mids franchise as 170s to go". Today's Railways (191): 8.
  43. ^ "Vivarail official statement – Marston Vale line". Vivarail. 30 October 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  44. ^ "Coronavirus delay to Wrexham '230s'". Rail. No. 941. 6 October 2021. p. 15.
  45. ^ "Ten evacuated as Kenilworth train catches fire". BBC News. 30 December 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  46. ^ "Coventry to Nuneaton trial scrapped after test train fire". BBC News. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  47. ^ "Class 230 Full Fire Report" (PDF). Vivarail. 31 January 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  48. ^ "Firefighters called deal with 'small fire' on new Class 230 trains due to come into service later this year". Retrieved 4 July 2022.
  49. ^ Foster, Stefanie (13 April 2017). "D-Train to carry passengers to Rail Live". Rail Magazine (824). Archived from the original on 6 July 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  50. ^ Clinnick, Richard (30 June 2017). "GALLERY: D-Train interiors". Archived from the original on 6 July 2017. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  51. ^ Zukowski, Dan. "Pop Up Metro aims to provide affordable passenger operation". Kalmbach Media. Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  52. ^ "Vivarail unveils new Class 230 livery as West Midlands Trains deal signed". Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  53. ^ "First Vivarail Class 230 Enters Passenger Service". Rail Record. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  54. ^ "West Midlands Trains" (PDF). Stourbridge Line User Group. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  55. ^ "Vivarail to supply three D-Trains to West Midlands Trains". Rail Technology Magazine. 1 March 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  56. ^ "KeolisAmey reveal new-look Wales trains and services". 4 June 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  57. ^ "Vivarail to supply Class 230 D-Trains to KeolisAmey". 10 June 2018.
  58. ^ Clinnick, Richard (2018). "Scotland and Isle of Wight among options for Class 230s". Rail. No. 878. pp. 28–29.
  59. ^ "UK train manufacturer sends second set of Class 230 battery stock to the US". 26 April 2022.
  60. ^ "Vivarail goes forth with fast-charging batteries". Rail. No. 944. 17 November 2021. p. 12-13.

External linksEdit