A research and development project that could lead to very light rail (VLR) services operating in Coventry is now well underway.
To move this important and innovative project forward and ultimately deliver a very light rail scheme across the city the Council is looking to engage with the private sector. It is hoped that the Council will eventually form a joint venture to deliver the first route in Coventry.
The formal procurement process for the joint venture opportunity will commence following soft market testing. To initiate the soft market testing interested bidders are being invited to an information day being held on 14 November. The formal procurement process is expected to run from January 2020 for 12 months (in accordance with CCC's duties under the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016).
The Coventry VLR will be the first system of its type in the country. Lightweight, battery powered vehicles, capable of autonomous operation, will operate on specially designed tracks that can be installed with the minimum of disruption. The system will provide the attractiveness of a traditional tram system at a fraction of the cost, providing an affordable public transport solution for smaller towns and cities.
The VLR system will be cleaner, with zero emissions from the tail-pipe, and will fit into historic city centre environments without the need for overhead wires and equipment.
By providing an attractive public transport service on key corridors, it will aim to reduce road congestion and help reduce harmful emissions from transport in the city.
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at the Council, said: “We have already made significant progress with the development of the vehicle and we want to build on the investment and progress of the ground breaking VLR scheme. We are now really keen to test the level of interest from potential bidders.
“These are exciting times for the city. We are looking to develop a scheme that is much more cost effective than traditional light rail systems whilst using the latest technologies.”
It is anticipated that the joint venture will complete all outstanding R&D activities, devise the business case for the first route in the Coventry region, procure the necessary planning and statutory consents, complete the design and construction of the first route and potentially operate the system.
In addition, a VLR Conference will be held at the University of Warwick on the 28thNovember and interested bidders are invited to attend to find out more about VLR. Register for the event.