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Very Light Rail

Very Light Rail (VLR)

Very Light Rail (VLR) is a disruptive technology solution for the rail industry.

The VLR vision is to develop lightweight, energy efficient rail vehicles that offer low manufacturing and operational costs.

There is great potential for VLR to increase mobility in cities, reopen disused branch lines across the UK, and more.

We are delivering this vision through several exciting consortium projects, including:

Revolution Very Light Rail

Revolution VLR is a consortium, led by TDI, which is dedicated to the development of next generation, 'very light rail' technology. Learn more about this exciting project here.

Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre

A joint venture between WMG and Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. The proposed centre will be located at Castle Hill, Dudley.

The Very Light Rail National 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

Coventry Very Light Rail

In 2016, Coventry City Council approached WMG to ask if the design approach and technology from the Revolution VLR railcar could be used to create a low-cost tram solution, in order to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home and travel by public transport.

Coventry City Council secured £14.66m of funding to support the required research and development costs and initial route planning activities.

This project aims to deliver all of the benefits of trams but at a cost of £10m per kilometre (compared with an average of £50m per kilometre for a traditional tram solution). The vehicle will be smaller than traditional trams and battery powered avoiding the need for overhead power cables. With a passenger capacity of 50, the vehicles will provide a hop-on, hop-off service. To minimise driver costs, it is envisaged that the vehicles will ultimately be autonomous.

WMG, in partnership with Coventry City Council and Transport for West Midlands, is leading the research and development projects to deliver a novel vehicle and track form.

Transport Design International was selected by WMG to develop the vehicle design. A demonstrator vehicle design has recently been completed and components are being procured. The vehicle will be assembled in Coventry and be ready for testing in autumn 2020.

Separately, WMG is procuring an industrial ‘innovation partner’ to work on the design and proving of a novel track form. Prototype track elements will be available by late 2020, after which time, a purpose-designed test track will be constructed at the VLR National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) in Dudley to allow the vehicle and track to be fully evaluated.