STAFF had to be evacuated from a train hailed as ‘groundbreaking’ after a fire broke out.
The Long Marston-built Vivarail train – which is made from former London Underground tubes – was undertaking a test run
on the Kenilworth line when the blaze started in one of the engines between Coventry and Leamington.
It was understood to have been completing its final testing, and if it had gone smoothly would have led to the train being introduced on the Nuneaton to Coventry line.
A spokeswoman from Vivarail said: “While undertaking a test run a fire started in one of the detachable engine modules on one of the power cars. There were no passengers on the train and Vivarail staff were able to get off the train without a problem.
“The train is being prepared to move back to Tyseley and until it is possible to access the engine module the cause of the fire cannot be determined.
“A thorough investigation will take place in conjunction with the Railway Accident Investigation Bureau and whatever steps necessary will be undertaken.
“Vivarail regrets that this means the planned trial on the Coventry to Nuneaton line will be postponed.”
Freelance rail journalist Fraser Pithie, who was at the scene of the incident, said the rail industry must not have a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction over the fire.
He said: “The train is a really innovative approach. It is a real shame this has happened as the small and dedicated team at Vivarail who have developed and built this concept have put so much effort into this.
“This small but talented company have built what is – apart from its wheels and bodyshell – a new train. They have met all the stringent tests required of large train builders in doing so.
“This train has much potential for passengers and is about two-thirds of the cost of a new train.
“Fires with trains are rare but they are not unheard of, a bit like motor cars and we don’t stop making or using them when one or two go wrong, we find the problem, fix it, learn and move on.
“Let’s hope investigations with any lessons and modifications being actioned are prompt and support to Vivarail from across the rail industry is forthcoming.”