Battery-powered, lightweight, rail-based vehicle planned for Coventry
The vehicle will be electric-powered; generating zero emissions, designed with the view to being autonomous in the future.
Engineers and researchers at WMG, University of Warwick, are working alongside Transport Design International (TDI), based in Stratford, to develop a battery-powered, lightweight, rail-based vehicle to operate in Coventry.
The WMG team, including engineers Darren Hughes and Andrew McGordon, are assisting TDI with the design of the vehicle for Coventry City Council, and now have a 3D simulation of the vehicle.
The vehicle will be battery-powered with the long-term objective to become an autonomous vehicle, allowing more vehicles to operate intelligently and efficiently to meet passenger demand.
It will hold 50 passengers, and is hoped to – in the future – work like the London Underground system where there is no timetable and people can hop on and off.
Due to being battery-powered there will be no overhead power supply which is both costly and has a negative impact to the city-scape. This feature 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 who will manufacture the vehicle once the design is complete.
A team of experts are also working to develop a new track system.
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.”
The government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has contributed £2.46 million towards phase one of the research and design of the prototype and £12.2 million has been secured from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Devolution Deal to undertake the research and development required to prove the very light rail (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.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, commented: “VLR is a fantastic innovation and 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.
“This VLR 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.”