UK’s GWR assumes Vivarail’s fast-charging battery trial program

Great Western Railway has completed the purchase of a number of assets from emission-free battery and hybrid trains manufacturer Vivarail, which entered administration last December.

GWR has agreed [to] contracts to buy intellectual property, rolling stock and equipment relating to the development of high-performance battery and FastCharge technology designed to support wider introduction of battery-powered trains on the UK’s rail network.

The deal secures the future of planned trials of the technology in a real-world environment, which GWR was supporting between West Ealing and Greenford.

The company has also employed nine former Vivarail staff to support the trials and project development.

GWR Engineering Director Simon Green said:

“We’ve been working closely with the Vivarail team on this exciting project for some time, and we are delighted we have been able to step in and make sure its important work can continue.

“There have clearly been some setbacks that mean we will need to review the existing plans and timescales, but we will continue to work with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to get the project back on track.

“This work is a key part of our commitment to reduce the carbon emissions of our train fleet with a view to removing all diesel-only traction from the network by 2040, in line with the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan.”

* “Fast-charging battery trial to resume after GWR agrees [to] deal to purchase Vivarail assets,” Feb. 16, 2023 news release.

Image above: Great Western Railway

Corresponding, connected home-page-entry image: courtesy of Vivarail

2 thoughts on “UK’s GWR assumes Vivarail’s fast-charging battery trial program”

  1. Interesting. I was noticing recently that Japan has a lot of diesel trains running, especially on rural lines, and was wondering what was going on. Ah, Wiki’s on it. Roughly 1/3 of Japan’s rail system remains unelectrified, whereas roughly 2/3 of the UK system remains unelectrified. So good work in (and thanks for) bringing this up!

    FWIW, Japan has something like 23,500 km of rail, the UK (the world’s oldest rail system, of course) has something like 15,600 km of rail. (Although most of Japan’s rail is horse-and-buggy era standard* (!!!) (1067 mm gauge) whereas most of the UK system is 1435mm (standard gauge) rail. I’d guess that Japan makes heavier use of it’s rail per km and per person than the UK does, though.)

    *: Watching videos of Japanese trains running in rural areas, I’m sure they’re glad they went with the narrower gauge: much of rural Japan is dense of mountains and hillsides and tunnels.

    • David, thanks again for your input.

      Something you may be interested in reading. A really informative article describing how the United States at one time was at the top of the then high-speed passenger-rail-transportation game. Mark Reutter in it also described how America exported various technologies to Japan, technologies that enabled Japan to be first to establish legitimate (improved) high-speed train service in the world. Reutter does a good job in providing specifics.

      Article title: “How America Led, and Lost, the High-Speed Rail Race” (Mar. 31, 2010) at the Progressive Policy Institute. URL:

      Meanwhile, here on the Air Quality Matters blog, I made mention of the Reutter article in: “Fifty years in the making: American high-speed rail” ( and “American high-speed rail building on a roll – 2” (

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