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 tram solutions are generally very costly - around £3 million for each tram. 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 first demonstrator vehicle estimated to be built and ready for testing in Autumn 2020.
The project has secured £14.66 million from the West Midlands Combined Authority Devolution Deal (£12.2 million) and Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership LEP Growth Fund (£2.45 million).
Very Light Rail will use a state-of-the-art rail system which will be cheaper, quieter and more environmentally friendly than anything currently available. And the aim is to manufacture vehicles that will have the capability to operate autonomously without a driver. This will significantly reduce operational costs and enable more frequent services for passengers – hopefully a hop on and hop off style service.
The vehicles will be battery operated using rapid charging solutions which will mean they will not require overhead cables.
WMG, and Warwick’s School of Engineering, are also developing a track solution for the system, which will be lightweight, low cost and easily embedded into roads or pavements.
It is planned that the first demonstrator vehicle will be assembled by Autumn 2020 and then tested at the soon to be built Hub to Home Transport Innovation Centre in Dudley.
This very light rail system will establish the City as a trailblazer in adopting new transport technology.
Images are indicative.