Vivarail’s D-Train has its first customer and will enter passenger service between Coventry and Nuneaton later this year.
A Class 230 prototype, which started life as a London Underground D-Stock unit, is to be leased by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) for London Midland for an initial 12-month period.
The three-car train will act as a demonstrator, gathering feedback from passengers to inform the production of future trains.
Announcing the news, Adrian Shooter, chief executive of Vivarail, said: “I’m delighted that the Class 230 will soon be running on the mainline carrying passengers.
“We will be supplying a train of the highest quality with three carriages fitted out in a range of designs which will allow us to get valuable feedback on what passengers actually want.”
A single-car train currently operates an hourly service between Nuneaton and Coventry, via Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.
When the stadium’s new station opened earlier this year, football and rugby fans were told they wouldn’t be able to use it to get to matches because of concerns about overcrowding.
To overcome this, London Midland ran special six-car charter trains for Wasps Rugby Club fans in February. Long term, however, the Class 230s could offer a cheaper alternative.
Councillor David Welsh, Deputy Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “We all know that the NUCKLE project aimed to link people to jobs – but local people want the option to leave their car at home and travel to the Ricoh by train.
“The current single carriage train once an hour is woefully inadequate to serve events – and it’s not what we wanted for the city. The new Class 230 will boost the event day service and make it a credible and reliable option.
“As soon as possible we will be talking to both Wasps and Coventry City Football Club to encourage them to join us is making this happen.”
Vivarail has acquired almost all of London Underground’s D-Stock driver cars and 70 trailer cars. The initial units have undergone a complete rebuild. Each driver car has been fitted with two diesel engine modules to power the electric motors. The engines are mounted beneath the vehicle and can be quickly removed and replaced when needed without having to visit a depot.