Coventry Very Light Rail (VLR) is a research and development project, using the latest automotive expertise developed in the region to deliver an innovative and affordable light rail system.

Traditional light rail schemes cost upwards of £25 million per km, in some city centre locations they can cost as much as £100 million per km. This project aims to deliver all of the benefits of trams but at a fraction of the cost – providing a real alternative to the car and helping to improve air quality and reduce congestion.

The project has secured funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and the Council. The project is part of Coventry's bid to the City Regional Sustainable Transport Fund. 

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What is Coventry VLR and why are we doing it?

Coventry City Council is collaborating with WMG at the University of Warwick, Transport for West Midlands, Dudley Council and the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation to apply innovative research and development to urban light rail. The aim is to create a reliable, frequent, environmentally friendly, battery-driven hop-on hop-off transport system that will work in small to medium-sized towns and cities at a fraction of the cost of a traditional tram.  

A pioneering world first, Coventry VLR has been designed to be autonomous, operating at a high frequency to provide a turn-up and go service. There will be no overhead cables and the new track design will minimise the need to relocate pipes and cables which is time-consuming and expensive.

Why is Coventry VLR beneficial?

Coventry needs an environmentally and financially sustainable mass-transit transport system, which is capable of supporting urban and economic development and helping to improve air quality.

Coventry VLR will provide a solution that is comfortable, efficient, reliable and low-cost. The vehicle will have low floors to enable passengers to embark/disembark from the pavement.

The vehicle will be battery-powered and run on a track laid closer to the surface than conventional systems.

Coventry VLR aims to get people out of their cars, easing road congestion and improving air quality. 

Plans for Coventry

The first route is being developed in Coventry to provide a mass transport system for the city and prove the concept in a city centre environment. This will connect major employment sites with the city centre and the railway station.

We envisage that Coventry VLR will be part of a wider network of public transport. Buses will continue to be effective in areas where it is not possible for Coventry VLR to run.

How will the scheme be delivered?

Work is well underway and falls into four main areas:

  1. design, construction and testing of a vehicle prototype
  2. design, development and testing of an innovative low-cost modular track
  3. development of a design and business case for the first route in Coventry
  4. design, planning and delivery of an operations and maintenance strategy

The long-term vision for Coventry VLR is to develop an integrated transport solution which may be commercially available to other cities across the UK and globally

What sort of infrastructure is required?

Coventry Very Light Rail will be run on an innovative new track specifically designed for the Coventry system which is not laid as deep as conventional light rail lines. As the Coventry VLR is battery-powered, costly overhead electrification is not needed and operation will be pollution-free.

A test track of the new track form will be delivered at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) in Dudley for testing the integrated system.

The VLRNIC will allow for testing and development of VLR vehicles in the West Midlands. This will include a test track and workshop space to support research and development.


Images are indicative.

How will cyclists be catered for along the Coventry VLR route?

The Council is keen to make sure there will be sufficient provision for cyclists alongside the first and subsequent routes. We plan to engage with cyclists throughout the project and to develop proposals to mitigate concerns. 


Take a virtual tour of what the vehicle might look like

Please send any questions or comments to

Very Light Rail

Address: PO Box 15
Council House
Earl Street