Posted: Mon 5th Dec 2022

Testing of TfW’s troubled Class 230 trains halted after manufacturer goes into administration

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, Dec 5th, 2022

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Testing and driver training on the troubled Class 230 trains, earmarked to come into service on the Wrexham to Bidston railway line, has been halted after the manufacturer called in administrators.

Vivarail, the Warwickshire-based company behind the Class 230 train made the decision to file a Notice of Intention to appoint administrators on 23rd November.

The company went into administration on December 1, with the appointment of joint administrators from Grant Thornton UK.

Transport for Wales (TfW) owns five hybrid diesel/battery Class 230 which are made from refurbished London tube trains.

They were intended to come into service in 2019 but TfW only took delivery of units from Vivarail in July 2020.

Staff training requirements were hampered by the Pandemic leading to further delays.

Other delays have been caused by what TfW called “thermal incidents” which included a small fire on one of the units due to overheating batteries.

TfW has said it intends to bring them into service next year, four years later than planned.

A Transport for Wales spokesperson said: “We still have a strong ambition to deliver both a full twice-hourly service and increased frequency directly into Liverpool for the North Wales Metro, and we’ll continue to work with all partners to expand the capacity of the line in the future.”

“We’re planning to introduce the twice-hourly service on the Wrexham-Bidston line once the Class 230s have entered service. However, testing and training is currently on hold following the recent announcement from Vivarail.”

“We’ll be in a position to provide an updated statement in the coming days, but our focus remains to bring our Class 230 units into service on our network. We’re currently planning for this to take place during 2023.”

Grant Thornton UK said the ‘increasingly difficult operating environment and delays to the anticipated upscaling of key net-zero projects and pilots’ had contributed to a funding shortfall ‘that has not been capable of resolution in the timescales available.’

Joint Administrator Jon Roden from Grant Thornton said:  “We have supported Vivarail in rapidly exploring market appetite for the provision of further investment. However, no solution capable of delivery in the very limited time available has been identified.”

“Whilst it has not been appropriate to continue to trade the Vivarail business in administration, we have presently retained a core team of circa 30 employees and would urge any parties interested in the business and/or its assets to contact us urgently.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Transport Minister Natasha Asghar MS said: “With no new trains and no doubling of services, this upgrade is now three years late while promises to communities on the borderlands line have been broken.

“These trains should have begun service first in 2019, but delay after delay means the trains are yet to utilised. Now, this farce by Transport for Wales has outlived the company that manufactured the trains.

“The Labour Government must now give concreate dates for when these trains will enter service and assurances that Vivarail’s administration will not lead to any further delays to their deployment which could see these trains delayed by four years.”

TfW said in July it plans to introduce its brand new Class 197 “made in Wales” diesel trains on the Borderlands Line “by the end of this calendar year.”

There is speculation these units could enter service on the line at the next timetable change on December 11.

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