Britain’s newest TOC runs its first trains


By Robin Jones and Cedric Johns

BRITAIN’S newest Train Operating Company, Vintage Trains Limited, has run its first official train – and it wasn’t steam or heritage stock.

Just nine days after the TOC’s public launch, on Thursday, September 27, VTL provided the crew and paths for mileage accumulation on the new Vivarail Class 230 DEMU, running from Bedford to Bletchley on the Marston Vale line.

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The Class 230s are converted from London Underground D78 stock, originally manufactured during 1980 by Metro Cammell.

Veteran driver Ray Churchill drove the new TOC’s first train as part of his assessment to return to the main line, when he took GWR 4-6-0 No. 4965 Rood Ashton Hall on two return trips from Tyseley to Stratford, out via the North Warwickshire route and return via Dorridge, on October 9. JONATHAN WEBB

The conversion reuses the D78’s aluminium bodyshells with refurbished interiors, the traction motors and bogies, and replaces the third-rail traction-current system with diesel generators or battery packs.

Vintage Trains testing

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VTL has been working closely with Vivarail in planning an operation that is testing a number of systems and processes and gaining valuable data before the train enters service on the line with West Midlands Trains running under the London Northwestern Railway brand.

VTL operations and safety director Ian Lake said: “The team was very proud to begin operations in a small and yet important way for our partner Vivarail so soon after our official launch as a TOC. We are forging ahead with the planning of our steam-hauled services but what better way to start our business than running one of the UK’s newest trains built to serve local communities and support the wider railway industry?”

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