CVLR with Cllr O'Boyle

Coventry City Council has backed Campaign for Better Transport’s ‘Better Transport Week’, bringing together leaders from the sector to call for improvements to the UK’s public transport system.

On Wednesday 14 June, at a light rail summit hosted by Campaign for Better Transport at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre in Dudley, Coventry Very Light Rail was a central topic of discussion, with delegates discussing how it could transform the light rail industry.

Representatives from Coventry City Council, the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation, UK Tram, Spårvagnsstäderna, Thames Gateway Tramlink and Mainspring highlighted the many benefits of light rail investment for towns and cities in the UK and Europe.

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Coventry’s cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change, said: “Campaign for Better Transport is doing brilliant and much needed work to highlight the UK’s chronic underinvestment in public transport. Ironically there is a solution in our Coventry Very Light Rail scheme – it will drive down the cost of providing a green, efficient and high-quality form of public transport, making it affordable to install for Coventry and cities and towns across the country.

“Coventry Very Light Rail is a game changer – bringing installation costs down to around £10mn per kilometre. It does this by making use of a zero emission, battery powered vehicle that can turn tight corners alongside a revolutionary shallow trackform which will allow us to keep many utilities in the ground. We’re calling on government to back this project and provide the investment to make it a reality in Coventry and fast. 

“In Coventry we’re leading the green industrial revolution and the push to decarbonise our transport system. We’ll be the UK’s first all-electric bus city by 2025, we’ve installed more electric vehicle charge points than any other city in the UK and we’re hard at work installing miles of high-quality segregated cycle lanes. We just need government process to catch up.”

Michael Solomon Williams from Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Light rail networks used to be commonplace across the UK, and their removal has led directly to the over-congested, dangerous, polluted roads which are such a problem today, damaging communities, our health and the environment. The development of this exciting lower-cost model offers the chance for more cities to install high-quality rail systems that change the way people get about. Very Light Rail and BCIMO are at the forefront of innovation, and we believe that they can lead the way to a future with light rail back at the heart of our transport networks."

Mainspring’s Managing Director, Matt Johnston, was delighted to both present and help sponsor the event. He said, ‘Light Rail is the smart choice when it comes to urban mobility. With zero carbon emissions at point of use, proven local and national economic benefits and the ability to battle congestion in busy urban areas, light rail (and an integrated public transport network) really does offer the most sustainable, cost-effective and user-friendly transit solution within cities. With a variety of means with which councils can garner support and funding for their schemes – such a scrappage or parking levies – now is the time to see light rail expand well beyond our current UK systems.’

Nick Mallinson, BCIMO’s director of business and innovation, said: “As a hub for very light rail innovation, VLRNIC was the obvious choice to host Light Years Ahead - and we were thrilled to bring together some of the industry’s leading voices. The summit was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate sustainable transport, share project updates, and discuss the future of light and very light rail.”

Published: Thursday, 22nd June 2023