The Hitachi Verification Train

In 2002, the promise of potential rolling stock orders in UK lead the Japanese manufacturer Hitachi to investigate the possibility of entering the market. Recent experience of others in respect of excessive time taken in acquiring a Safety Case to allow the trains to enter service in the UK suggested to Hitachi that it would be worthwhile investing money in a test train to evaluate their traction in the UK environment. This would avoid expensive delays in the future.

This resulted in a contract being let to AEA Technology Rail at Derby to convert a Class 310  EMU into a test train capable of running on both AC and DC supplies. An original 25kV power car was fitted with the Hitachi traction package, including transformer and traction motors.

The train could operate on either 25kV AC via the original pantograph on the converted power car or from 3rd rail 650 v DC fed to the power car via cables through the train from shoe gear fitted underneath the cabs of the 310 unit.

The tests needed to be carried out initially at specific sites which were to be electrically isolated from the rest of the railway and therefore the train needed conventional traction in order to transit from the depot to the test site prior to switching in the Hitachi traction.

To this end the AC version of the train was made up of an original 310 AC power car, two driving trailers and the converted Hitachi power car. In addition for DC operation a class 423 DC power car was acquired which replaced the 310 power car.

The train was known as the 'Verification Train' or V-Train was numbered 960201 and the author was involved with the on-track testing of the train during which time it undertook test running on both DC and AC lines as well as on the CTRL itself.

The fact that Hitachi eventually won the order for the domestic CTRL services appears to have justified the decision to verify that the traction did not interfere with the infrastructure.

 Here is a selection of photos of the V-train

Click on the picture for a bigger image - all photos are the author's unless otherwise credited

DC testing

This was undertaken on the line between Faversham and Margate, the train being based at Ramsgate depot. The tests were carried out in two stages, first within a Signal Protection Zone (SPZ) which was put in place overnight on the Down line between Margate and Whitstable and following satisfactory results the train ran in off-peak traffic between Ramsgate and Faversham.

Getting some attention at Ramsgate Here is the class 310 in Ramsgate depot shortly after arrival on 30th January 2004. The AWS receivers were being fitted with shields which are used on DC lines.
In the yard The unit is seen at the back of the depot in company with a 'Sandite' unit. The unit was in its DC formation with a class 423 power car in the consist

Stabled

On February 13th 2004 the unit is seen stabled at the rear of Ramsgate depot
Margate station 02.00 Pictured at Margate in February 2004 awaiting the last Down London service to clear prior to commencing the night's test running in the SPZ.
Ramsgate At Ramsgate on 24th June 2004 after a driver training run to Faversham
Faversham On the same day the V Train is seen Faversham station
Faversham again On 19th July it waits to depart for Ramsgate during its 'in-traffic' testing
New Sidings After the completion of the tests the unit was stabled in the New Sidings behind the station at Ramsgate. Note the second vehicle is the class 423 DC power car Mk1 body profile whereas the 310 is made up of Mk2 coach profile
Ready to roll 37109 waits for the road at Ramsgate with the V-Train on 2nd September 2004 on its transit move to Ilford.

AC testing

This was undertaken on the line between Shenfield, Southminster and Southend,  the train being based at Ilford depot. The tests were carried out in two stages, first within a Signal Protection Zone (SPZ) which was put in place overnight on both Up and Down lines between either Shenfield and Southminster or between Shenfield and Southend. Following satisfactory results the train ran in off-peak traffic between Shenfield and Southend.

Ilford In the shed at Ilford in October 2004 during a maintenance exam in its AC formation which included a second class 310 power car
Seven Kings The unit departs Ilford depot on its first 'dry run' to Southend on 14th October 2004

Hitachi

Southend sidings On the same day the unit is pictured in the Down side sidings at Southend
Billericay 02.00 The unit pictured at Billericay at some unearthly hour during SPZ testing in January 2005
Shenfield On 1st February 2005 the unit sits in platform 1 at Shenfield during in-traffic tests
Southend The unit stands in platform 1 at Southend awaiting a return path to Shenfield on 1st February 2005
Mountnessing Jcn The unit is captured at Mountnessing Jcn just to the east of Shenfield en route to Southend on 2nd February 2005

CTRL testing

This was undertaken over a couple of nights towards the end of March 2005 running between Singlewell and Sandling Tunnel.

Total possession of the CTRL was necessary although the train ran up and down the Up line only, based at the Up freight loop at Lenham.

Just arrived The unit is seen here at EWS Dollands Moor depot after arrival from Ilford. EWS kindly allowed the unit to be stabled at the International depot during its brief stay on CTRL. The loco was not the one which brought the set down
Dollands Moor At Dollands Moor just before 8pm on the evening of 19th March 2005 loco 66026 prepares to haul the V-train onto the CTRL via the Ashford chord
Early morning On the morning of 21st March the unit sits in the Up loop at Lenham where it was stabled during the daytime.
Eurostar at speed Later in the morning an Up Eurostar passes the V-Train site at high speed.
It's dark out here For the running on CTRL took place overnight and additional lights were mounted on the train to comply with CTRL requirements.
Ready to roll At Dollands Moor on Good Friday 25th March 2005 loco 66181 makes ready to depart for Ilford with the V-Train.

Chris Ward

Home again The unit is pictured back home on Ilford depot behind 66181

Chris Ward

Following the completion of the test series at the end of March 2005 the unit languished on Ilford depot until the end of May when it was hauled off to the MOD scrapping site at Shoeburyness where it was finally scrapped.

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