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Coventry's Very Light Rail project reveals on-road, eventually autonomous vehicle

Professional Engineering

(Credit: WMG)
(Credit: WMG)

The project behind an electric light rail vehicle that could one day run autonomously on the roads of Coventry has unveiled a 3D simulation of the vehicle.

Designed by engineers at the University of Warwick’s WMG and developed with Transport Design International (TDI) in Stratford, the vehicle will hold 50 people.

Built from aluminium, steel and composites, it will be battery-powered to negate the need for costly and unsightly overhead power. Battery power also provides future flexibility for new routes.

The first test vehicle will be reportedly be manufactured by mid-2020. TDI have partnered with Coventry-based RDM, who will manufacture the vehicle once the design is complete.

“The Coventry light rail system will be innovative in bringing together technologies from a number of sectors to deliver a low-cost environmentally-sustainable public transport solution for the city of Coventry,” said engineer Dr Darren Hughes from the WMG. “Seeing the 3D simulation and envisaging how it will look within Coventry makes us look forward to building the first vehicle that will be ready for testing at a test track facility during 2020.”

The government’s local growth fund has contributed £2.46m to R&D of the prototype, and the West Midlands Combined Authority devolution deal will provide £12.2m to prove the concept.

“Very Light Rail is a fantastic innovation and it has the potential to transform the way people travel,” said councillor Jim O’Boyle. “It will be much more affordable to install than traditional trams, take up far less road space, be able to run alongside traffic and our ultimate aim is that it doesn’t require a driver so it can be a frequent service.

“Coventry has a rich traditional of vehicle manufacturing and now we are leading the way in future transport too. This Very Light Rail work, combined with our work on driverless and connected cars puts us right at the forefront of creating new, ground-breaking solutions for future transport needs. They will be safer and more environmentally friendly and I hope go on to provide good job opportunities for local people too.”


Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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