Vivarail publish report on the Kenilworth fire

Vivarail have just published a full report on December’s fire at Kenilworth (pdf) during a test run of their class 230 DEMU. They identify the cause as a fuel leak, and note several design improvements that need to be made to avoid a repetition. The whole thing is an interesting read for anyone concerned with testing.

Having your train catch fire during what amounts to a full system test is a pretty serious failure by anyone’s standards, and it’s forced the abandonment of plans for a passenger trial this May. But despite the naysayers who seemed all too keen to dance on Vivarail’s grave, it’s a long way from terminating the project.

The concept of converting surplus trains from London Underground’s District Line into diesel trains by installing underfloor diesel generator sets to power the existing traction motors is a sound one. With running gear and motors dating from 2005 the trains have twenty years’ life left in them, and the conversions are far cheaper than new-build DMUs. There is some political resistance to “London’s hand-me-downs”, but something has got to replace the Pacers.

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One Response to Vivarail publish report on the Kenilworth fire

  1. Michael says:

    I’ve just read the report (thanks for the link) and I agree this is a long way from terminating the project.

    The whole point of testing is to find problems. That the cause of the initial problem found was “rushing the testing” is embarrassing, but given the points they learnt about how the vehicle reacted to the fire it was actually a very useful test.

    They could have saved themselves some damage by waiting for the correct fire extinguisher. They already knew about that risk and “a manager” evidently decided that getting the testing done was worth the risk. Well some risks are worth taking and I’m not in a position to asses that one.

    It is reassuring to know for certain that the passenger floor really is as fireproof as it should be.

    So, the live date has rolled forward. It’s a project and delays happen. Getting this right is more important than getting it quickly.

    Those Pacers need to be replaced and this is a cost effective way to do it.