The Coventry Very Light Rail project has been awarded £1.5 million worth of funding from the West Midlands Combined authority to investigate how to create a low cost trackform for the light rail carriages.
The project, which the council says aims to revolutionise affordable public transport in towns and cities, has so far seen engineers from WMG, University of Warwick working with TDI to design a battery-powered light rail vehicle for Coventry City Council.
The long term objective is it will become an autonomous vehicle that can hold 50 passengers and work like the London Underground system, where there is no timetable and people can hop on and off.
The vehicle will be lightweight in design using a multi-material approach. Due to being battery-powered there will be no overhead power supply, which can be costly.
The ultimate goal of the track project is to design an affordable trackform that can be easily removed and will reduce impact on utilities, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds digging up roads and moving gas, electric, telecommunication and sewage systems, which is currently the process for building traditional tram systems.
Dr Darren Hughes, Associate Professor at WMG, University of Warwick said the project brought together advanced technology from a number of sectors to deliver a low-cost environmentally-sustainable public transport solution.
“Now that the vehicles have been designed it is time to look at the track they will run on, and with the help of Ingerop Conseil et Ingenierie, we will make it as affordable and environmentally friendly as possible.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said: “Our plan for Very Light Rail has the potential to transform the way people travel. It will be delivered at a much lower cost than traditional trams, a hop on, hop off service part of the green revolution and of course its innovation born in Coventry.
“While the development of the vehicle is progressing well, we also need to innovate in the development of the track and that’s exactly what Ingerop will be able to help with. Experts in this field we will be setting them the challenge of designing track that that can be laid much more quickly and therefore much more cheaply than traditional track. Very Light Rail is a really exciting project. Another innovative first for Coventry and this is another important step in its delivery.”