Coventry Very Light Rail

Coventry Very Light Rail is a research and development project, using the latest automotive expertise in the region to develop an innovative track design and vehicle, and deliver an affordable light rail system, for Coventry and beyond.

Alongside a package of measures, Coventry Very Light Rail will provide an alternative to the car, help to improve air quality and reduce congestion.

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Why Coventry Very Light Rail is needed

Where conventional light rail (tram) systems can cost upwards of £25 million per km to install, and as much as £100 million per km in city centres, Coventry Very Light Rail aims to deliver a solution that provides the benefits of a conventional tram but at a much-reduced installation cost.

The project will create the technology to provide a reliable, frequent, environmentally friendly, hop-on hop-off transport system in Coventry and other cities and towns at a lower cost than conventional light rail and still provide its benefits.

Installation of the system will secure local investment, provide local, high-skilled jobs, and put Coventry at the forefront of the green industrial revolution.

The vehicle and track 

Pioneering world firsts, the Coventry Very Light Rail vehicle and track have been designed to meet the transport needs of Coventry.

The vehicle has been developed to be autonomous, allowing it to operate at a high frequency to provide a turn-up and go service. It is battery-powered, eliminating the need for overhead wires. It has an innovative turning system allowing it to handle 15m radius curves, meaning it can be installed in tight corners in the existing highway. The vehicle will be comfortable and have low floors to enable passengers to embark and disembark easily. 

The new track is laid just 30cm within the road’s surface, minimising the need to relocate pipes and cables which is time-consuming and expensive. It achieves this by taking advantage of cutting-edge materials science, while still making use of standard rail parts to ensure ease of manufacturing.

Research, development and testing

Plans for the first route are under development, and will connect major employment and education sites with the city centre and integrate with the bus and railway stations. Coventry Very Light Rail will form part of the wider public transport network and connect with existing buses. The long-term vision for Coventry Very Light Rail is to develop an integrated transport solution which may be commercially available to other cities across the UK and globally

Work to deliver the scheme is well underway and falls into four main areas:

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

The Council is working with the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre in Dudley for testing the integrated system.

The Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre will allow for testing and development of Coventry Very Light Rail vehicles in the West Midlands. This will include a test track and workshop space to support research and development.

VLR

Images are indicative.

Accessibility along the Coventry Very Light Rail route

The Council will ensure there is sufficient provision for all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and the disabled alongside the first and subsequent routes of Coventry Very Light Rail. We plan to engage with all stakeholders to develop proposals to mitigate concerns.

Partners and funding

Coventry Very Light Rail is being funded by a number of partners: the West Midlands Combined Authority, the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership the Council, and the project is part of Coventry's bid to the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement. 

The Council is collaborating with a number of partners on the development of the project, including WMG at the University of Warwick, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and the black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation to drive forward the research, development and testing of the system.

Take a virtual tour of what the vehicle might look like

Please send any questions or comments to verylightrail@coventry.gov.uk

Very Light Rail

Address: PO Box 15
Council House
Earl Street
Coventry
CV1 5RR