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Rail Activity

Vision: To be a disruptive innovation force in rail through technology transfer from other transport sectors

WMG centre HVM Catapult is currently involved in a number of rail projects including the following:

  • The Very Light Rail Innovation Centre
  • Revolution Very Light Rail Project


The very light rail sector offers a significant opportunity for UK companies to develop new solutions embracing technology transferred from the automotive sector, leading to the growth of a new industry supplying UK and international rail schemes. WMG's focus on low carbon mobility links closely to the very light rail sector, which has many advantages over traditional rail systems. These include the following: vehicles with low axle weights (around 4 tonnes), self-powered vehicles with energy recovery and storage systems as standard, reduced capital cost and installation time for track infrastructure, and reduced infrastructure operational and maintenance costs. There is a lot of potential for VLR vehicles to be used on disused branch lines across the UK, many of which have been closed since the early 1960s.

Current plans in order to achieve the vision include the following steps:

  • establishing credibility through involvement in selected rail projects, with an initial focus on very light rail, focusing on lightweight structures, energy storage and hybrid propulsion
  • applying volume manufacturing approaches where possible to the design and construction of rail vehicles and track infrastructure, to reduce costs