Flagship Coventry transport project takes a major step forward to net zero

  • Real-world urban highway demo site of innovative rail track system for Coventry Very Light Rail (CVLR) unveiled on University of Warwick campus
  • Testing facility will allow simulation of various scenarios, enabling active engagement with key stakeholders including utility companies and city transport planners
  • WMG and Ingerop engineers have capitalised on advanced material and manufacturing processes developed over recent years

Image of Margot James, Dr Chris Micallef and Professor Robin Clark at the new testing siteThe Coventry Very Light Rail Project (CVLR) has taken a major step forward, as Coventry City Council and WMG, at the University of Warwick, launch a real-world demo site for its light rail track system. 

The site, based at WMG, University of Warwick, gives stakeholders a snapshot of what’s to come in Coventry, when the first phase of the city route commences. 

Using advanced material and manufacturing processes, researchers and engineers at WMG have worked alongside track-design experts at Ingerop to create, design and build the demo site including the unique track system, which is not only more affordable to install but also enables rapid installation – minimising disruption to local properties and businesses. 

The track form, designed to sit within the top 30cm of existing highway surfaces, is easy to install and can be removed rapidly; significantly reducing clashes with utilities and potentially saving millions of pounds otherwise spent on excavation and moving gas, electrical and telecommunication systems when installing more traditional track forms. With installation costed at approximately £10m per km, the track is significantly cheaper compared to current tram tracks which can cost upwards of £25m per km, and significantly more in city centre locations. 

The new track has been developed in parallel to a zero-emission, battery-powered lightweight shuttle vehicle created in partnership with TDi. The vision of Coventry Very Light Rail is that as technology matures it will become autonomous and work similarly to the London Underground system, where service is frequent and passengers can hop on and off. 

The vehicle itself is lightweight, and there will be no overhead power supply along the route, significantly reducing infrastructure costs, complexity and visual impact on the city-scape. 

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Regeneration and Climate Change, said: This new track test site is a key part of our work to demonstrate the viability of the breakthrough technology in this track. In a world first, we’re aiming to keep pipes and cables in the ground, lowering installation costs and making Coventry Very Light Rail possible in our city and across the country. 

“Coventry Very Light Rail will form the backbone of our future transport network, but we’re investing in many projects to make our city’s transport cleaner, greener and more convenient for residents. Coventry Very Light Rail will fit seamlessly with our plans to be the UK’s first all-electric bus city and our plans to continue to provide more on-street electric charge points than anywhere outside London.”

Following installation at the University of Warwick, Coventry City Council will install test track at its Whitley Depot waste facility to test it with heavy goods vehicles, and also at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) in Dudley, where vehicle testing is currently taking place. The installation will form part of the facility’s 15m radius loop, built to test the CVLR prototype vehicle’s cornering system and will enable full system integration testing to be undertaken…Read more