I have been reading in the October issue of Modern Railways about the work being done to convert London Underground D78 stock into diesel-powered trains for possible branch line services across the UK.
In the magazine there are two articles about the astonishing project being undertaken by Adrian Shooter under his Vivarail brand to create a "new", inexpensive diesel-powered train (using Ford engines) by converting and refurbishing London Underground "D" stock trains. (For those unfamiliar with these trains, they are the ones that have been used on the District Line - with single-leaf doors - for the past 28 years). One article details the technical alterations being made to the old trains to make them fit for running on the main line railway - including improved crash-worthiness - while the second article reports on a test-ride in one of the prototype trains. One of the articles includes the following item:
"GROCKLE TRAIN Testing in passenger service [of the 3-car Class 230 demonstrator train] will 'follow in the new year'. While Adrian Shooter would not be drawn on the location of the test service, informed sources expect it will be on First Great Western [sic] under the requirement in the Direct Award franchise agreement. Bristol-Severn Beach had been suggested as the evaluation route but FGW has settled on the Plymouth-Gunnislake branch with the unit based and maintained at Laira depot.. This is the logical choice since the Gunnislake branch will be more demanding operationally."
History repeats itself....remember when the Leyland bus-based Class140, predecessor of the "Pacer" trains was tried experimentally on the Gunnislake branch?
Derek Very interesting, many thanks Derek.