Very Light Rail system moves forward in Coventry

A demonstration track for a possible Very Light Rail system in the West Midlands will be installed in Coventry city centre after an investment from the West Midlands Combined Authority. 

Nicola Small, the Senior Rail Programme Manager for Coventry City Council, will present a talk on the VLR system at the Derby Conference Centre next month after a £72m investment from the WMCA to create the demo track and enable specialist testing for other VLR systems.


Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Coventry’s Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change, said: ‘This is a milestone investment in Coventry Very Light Rail, a project set to transform the way people in our city – and others throughout the UK and even the world – get around. 

‘By creating a new, clean and green form of transport, this investment is securing jobs in Coventry and, as in other cities which have installed light rail, will support regeneration in local areas.’ 

A VLR system is a type of rail track that uses lightweight, battery-powered vehicles without overhead cables, it is designed to be faster and cheaper than traditional rail and tram systems. 

Investment will also be used for the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre in Dudley to purchase equipment with funding also going towards exploring business cases for future VLR lines and possible links within the current West Midlands Metro network. 

The Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation is the legal entity responsible for operating the VLRNIC, it’s CEO Neil Fulton said: ‘The centre provides a unique opportunity for new rail technologies, such as VLR, to be developed and tested in a purpose-built facility and away from the mainline operating environment.’ 

He added: ‘BCIMO is delighted to be a part of the regional Very Light Rail programme and looks forward to providing continued R&D support to the CVLR project.’ 

Alongside the VLR project, Coventry also made steps towards a goal to combat climate change with the purchase of 50 electric buses, part of a project to become the UK’s first all-electric bus city by 2025.


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