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Very Light Rail

Very Light Rail Innovation Centre

A joint venture between WMG and Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

The proposed centre will be located at Castle Hill, Dudley. The estimated project costs are equivalent to ~£28m.

The site is adjacent to a disused freight line running between Stourbridge and Walsall, and the alignment will be initially re-laid with a single test track from Castle Hill to Dudley Port. This will be used for prototype trials, allowing for testing and evaluation of demonstrator vehicles and systems.


The Very Light Rail Innovation Centre will offer:

  • Co-ordination of strategic initiatives
  • Meeting rooms and a networking area
  • A resident R&D team with research labs and offices
  • A workshop for the assembly of prototype vehicles and systems
  • Test and evaluation track for prototype vehicle trials
  • Conference and exhibition facilities

  • Masters level courses for next generation light rail technical specialists

  • Training courses in maintenance and operation of light rail systems

  • Incubator units for SME companies engaged in very light rail

Revolution Very Light Rail Project

The main objective of the project is to reduce the weight and cost of a railcar by half in order to facilitate low cost connectivity of suburban and rural areas. The Radical Train will demonstrate unique self-powered bogies (with integral hybrid propulsion and kinetic energy recovery system) combined with a modular, lightweight body-shell utilising advanced materials. WMG will be transferring expertise in lightweighting technology from the automotive sector into this project. Automotive lightweighting solutions are already employing advanced materials including ultra-high strength steels and fibre-reinforced polymer composites.

  • Project Budget: ~£4.2 m with £1.6 m so far committed from Future Railway
  • Phase 1 Deliverables: Powertrain verfied in WMG's Energy Innovation Centre- Feb-March 2016, Concept designs for self-powered bogie and lightweight car- August 2016
  • Phase 2 Deliverables: VLR demonstrator comprising 2 self-propelled bogies plus lightweight car body - January 2018

train station

Vehicle Specification:

  • 18 m long
  • 80 kph speed
  • zero emission launch from station
  • 100% regenerative braking
  • 18 tonnes weight
  • 60 seats and 2 wheelchair spaces

Bogie Specification:

  • 2.2 m wheelbase
  • 4.5 tonnes weight
  • 3.8 l Cummins diesel engine
  • 110 kw Magtec generator
  • Lithium titanate battery pack
  • Magnomatics propulsion motors
VLR Innovation Centre Steering Group Members:
  • Dudley and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Councils
  • WMG/University of Warwick
  • Dudley College
  • Network Rail
  • Centro
  • Department for Transport
  • RSSB
  • Future Railway
  • Knowledge Transfer Network
  • West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Huddersfield
  • Coventry City Council
  • Wolverhampton City Council

vle interior

vlr exterior

Revolution VLR Consortium:
  • TDI
  • Unipart Rail
  • Prose
  • WMG
Key Technology Providers:
  • Cummins
  • Magtec
  • Magnomatics



The Consortium is currently seeking additional funding to support the manufacture of the train body.

For more information please visit the main VLR website or contact us.