Engineers and researchers at WMG, University of Warwick, are working alongside Transport Design International (TDI), based in Stratford, to develop the vehicle.
The WMG team, including engineers Darren Hughes and Andrew McGordon, are using their automotive engineering and battery expertise to assist TDI with the design of the vehicle for Coventry City Council, and now have a 3D simulation.
It will be battery-powered with the long term objective that it will become an autonomous vehicle, allowing more vehicles to operate intelligently and efficiently to meet passenger demand.
It will hold 50 passengers, and the longer term aim is that it will work like the London Underground system, where there is no timetable and people can hop on and off.
The vehicle will be a lightweight design using multiple materials including aluminium, steel and composites.
Due to being battery-powered there will be no overhead power supply, which provides future flexibility for operating on other non-electrified routes.
The first-of-a-kind design is available to view in 3D via WMG’s visualisation suite and the first test vehicle will be manufactured by mid-2020.
TDI have partnered with Coventry-based Company RDM which will manufacture the vehicle once the design is complete.
A team of experts are also working to develop a new track system.
The Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has contributed £2.46m towards phase one of the research and design of the prototype and £12.2m has been secured from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Devolution Deal to undertake the research and development required to prove the VLR concept.
The WMCA has also allocated specialist resource from Transport for West Midlands to provide technical support, advice and guidance to the project team as the scheme develops.
Dr Darren Hughes, WMG, University of Warwick, said:
“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. 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.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, added:
“Very Light rail is a fantastic innovation and it has the potential to transform the way people travel. 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.”
Article Credit: University of Warwick.