Lightweight "Upcycled" Ex-London Underground Trains Form an Economic Solution to Branch Line Services.

D 78 London Underground stock

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"Upcycling" - recycling by refurbishment and upgrading - comes to a railway line in the East of England Region.

After a startup in 2012, Vivarail, brainchild of Adrian Shooter, former CEO of Chiltern Railways, has been developing ways to convert the old London Underground stock into three configurations of seating suitable for various types of operation, as well as developing new power sources.

The company has now supplied three upcycled ex-London Underground D 78s to West Midland Trains to run on their Marston Vale Line between Bletchley and Bedford.

D 320 Marston Vale

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Now converted to diesel power as new Class 320 DMUs (diesel multiple units) these three trainsets have replaced the Class 150 and 153 DMUs which delivered services up to the end of May 2019.

Vivarail are also developing lithium ferrophosphate battery powered EMUs (electric multiple units) capable of running on a lines of up to 60 miles using charging from short lengths of third rail track at the end stations.

They are also developing a version powered by hydrogen using an intermediate fuel cell to generate electricity for traction.

The power units are of a modular construction such that DMUs could be easily converted to EMUs using battery storage, thus building in a measure of future-proofing.

These lightweight "upcycled" trains are not only an imaginative way to recycle old railway equipment but are also an economic solution to the continued use of a rural branch line for local services. It is especially important to maintain the Marston Vale Line as this is likely to be a key link in the planned restoration of the former Oxford-Cambridge rail route.