Vivarail is sending a second set of Class 230 battery train stock over to the USA as part of a ground-breaking initiative to make quick use of underutilised routes.
Two cars were sent to join their sisters in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, later this month as part of work to set up ‘Pop Up Metro’ routes. There, they will undergo testing and be used for demonstrations.
Vivarail intends to lease them, so they are put to work on routes across the USA. The hope is that this will result in lower cost, lower risk, and rapid implementation of rail-based transit services in the Americas.
Chairman of Vivarail shareholder Railroad Development Corporation, Henry Posner III, said: “There’s a lot of excitement about the possibilities that our Pop-Up Metro proposition brings to the Americas.
“With two trains, we are now positioned to act on multiple opportunities at the same time. This is critical in positioning Pop-Up Metro as an alternative for the industry at a time when both rail access and decarbonisation have become national priorities. It also helps that the trains are stylish and comfortable.”
Managing director of Vivarail, Steve McBride, said: “We’re incredibly proud that the technology we created in the UK is leading the way for battery-powered train operations in the Americas.
“This opens up a new market for Vivarail’s technology and shows that battery-power is a viable and efficient solution to decarbonise the railway.”
Battery power — 100-year-old technology for the future
Vivarail is the first to mention that battery-powered trains go back 100 years, but it considers their modern descendants to be the future — especially as it envisages some electrification projects will not be completed in time for Net Zero.
It showcased this technology at COP 26. Supported by the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Transport Scotland, Vivarail led the alternative traction event. Over the course of the summit it took delegates and VIPs on trips using one of its 230 trains to prove the strength of the technology. The main takeaway for many was not only did Vivarail’s technology make trains more ecologically friendly and versatile, but it could also be retrofitted to diesel trains.
What moves the technology to the next level is fast-charge battery technology, able to recharge the train in about ten minutes. This advancement will be seen closer to home when Vivarail completes work with Great Western Railways to deliver the first UK battery train in regular passenger service on the Greenford West Ealing route later this year — including the first installation of an automatic fast charging facility.