Fuel leak caused fire on Vivarail test train

A fuel leak has been determined as the cause of a fire that broke out on-board Vivarail’s prototype D-Train while on test in Kenilworth on December 30.

This is the main conclusion of Vivarail’s final internal investigation report that was published today (February 2), and which lays the blame at a repair intervention made to one of the train’s engines by an external supplier.  

The company says the fault was not spotted before the fire due to “a lack of suitable test procedures”, and has pledged to introduce more rigorous testing to components that have undergone repair.

It also proposes to improve the design of the vehicle, which failed to satisfy the testing requirement for new trains that stipulates trains must be able to run for a minimum of 15 minutes in the event of a fire. The D-Train’s brakes were instead applied automatically after the fire triggered a loss of air pressure.

Vivarail Chief Executive Adrian Shooter said: “We believe that we have found the root cause and a number of contributory factors which prolonged the fire.

“We are determined that there will never be a repetition and believe that the measures we have set out will achieve that end.  As a minimum, they will all be put in hand before the train is put back in service. We are continuing to take advice in some areas and may make further improvements.

“One consequence of the fire, which burned for about 30 minutes, is that the measures we had installed to protect the car body were thoroughly tested and found to be very effective.”

A full analysis of the report will be available in RAIL 820, published on February 15.

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