The Coventry Very Light Rail (CVLR) project has commenced vehicle testing on a test track at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) in Dudley.
This innovative track is thinner than that used in existing light rail systems and can be laid just 30cm deep into the road surface. This reduces the need to divert all pipes and cables, which often leads to significant cost and time delays.
By deploying battery-powered vehicles on this infrastructure, cities will thus be able to establish a passenger tram network at a much lower cost than traditional light rail systems.
“It was fantastic to see the vehicle running on its track for the very first time. This track is crucial to our vision and this successful test is a big milestone for the project. The track is unique; it’s specifically designed to be installed more quickly and more easily than the tracks used by other light rail systems.
“This test will also show that our vehicle is able to run on tight corners and up and down hills – it’s this that will enable it to run in smaller and medium-sized cities. But there is no reason a traditional tram couldn’t run on it too – making delivery of trams more affordable.”
This project has been developed by Coventry City Council, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), WMG at the University of Warwick and the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation.
It is backed by 40 million GBP in funding from the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS) to progress research and development for an affordable integrated mass transit system that could be deployed in cities across the UK.
The track slab for this project was designed by Ingerop / Rendel in conjunction with WMG and was laid by Galliford Try over the course of a few weeks. This process proved the simplicity of the design, which will lead to lower construction costs and reduced construction time.
The test track includes a tight curve and a 250-metre vertical hump, which generally pose significant challenges in traditional slab track constructions.
The testing process will also monitor the vibration, sound and stresses produced by the vehicle. This aims to demonstrate how the novel features of the CVLR vehicle reduce vibration and sound compared to standard tram systems.
Ultimately, this test track demonstration will pave the way for a real-world demonstration in Coventry city centre.
“By investing in - and supporting the development of - Very Light Rail in Coventry and Dudley, we’re placing our region right at the forefront of what is a tremendously innovative technology.
“It’s yet another wonderful example of the industry and ingenuity for which the West Midlands is deservedly known. I look forward to seeing this technology progress from the workshop to real-world application in the months and years ahead.
“As CVLR picks up pace, we’ll be able to further reduce traffic congestion and improve our air quality - offering a convenient and sustainable transport option for local people to enjoy.”
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