Coventry Very Light Rail
Coventry Very Light Rail (CVLR) is a planned light rail tram system to operate in Coventry, England. In 2019 it was announced that the first line of the system was planned to be operational by 2024.
Background and technology
Plans for the system were first announced in 2016. The concept for the system has been developed by the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), an academic department of the University of Warwick working with the Stratford-upon-Avon based company Transport Design International (TDI)
The concept of 'Very Light Rail' (VLR) has been developed as a way of creating a light rail system at a much lower cost and with much reduced construction times than traditional tramway or light rail systems. The main features of VLR are lightweight vehicles which will be able to hold 50-70 people, which will be battery powered, so avoiding the need for expensive overhead line equipment, these vehicles are proposed to eventually become autonomous, the first test vehicle is due to be manufactured by the Coventry based RDM Group by mid-2020. The second main feature is a form of light track which will be shallower than traditional tramway track and so be able to be laid over existing utilities, avoiding the need for these to be relocated, this would require less excavation, and therefore be quicker and less costly to install.
The aim is to reduce the cost of building the system to £7 million per kilometre, substantially less than the £35-60 million per kilometre of traditional tram systems.
The first proposed route for the system is from Coventry railway station to the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire via Coventry city centre. This route is proposed to be operational by 2024. Another proposed route would link the railway station the University of Warwick. Ultimately the city council want to construct a four route system connecting the major residential, industrial and commercial areas across the city, as well as a direct connection to the HS2 station near Birmingham Airport. In January 2018 it was suggested that part of the system could be operating from the railway station to the city centre by 2021, in time for Coventry being the UK City of Culture.
£2.4 million of funding for the development of the system came from the UK Government's Local Growth fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), and another £12.2 million was secured from the devolution deal for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) are leading on the operational aspects of the system. When operational the service is planned to operate at a 'turn up and go' frequency of every three to four minutes.
- Coventry Corporation Tramways - the historic tramway system in Coventry which ceased operation in 1940.
- West Midlands Metro - another tramway system in the West Midlands.
- "Trams to run on Coventry's streets for first time since The Blitz". Coventry Telegraph. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- "Could a light railway system be built in Coventry to link up with HS2?". Coventry Telegraph. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- "Coventry's Very Light Rail project reveals on-road, eventually autonomous vehicle". Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- "Spotlight on Coventry Very Light Rail". Rail Technology Magazine. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- "Appendix 4 – Very Light Rail.pdf" (PDF). Coventry.gov. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
- "WMG engineers unveil 3D simulation of electric Very Light Rail vehicle for Coventry". The Engineer. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
- Mallinson, Nick (2018). "Very Light Rail (VLR) as a means of delivering low-cost railways" (PDF). Cenex. p. 13. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
- "Coventry light rail design deal awarded". New Civil Engineer. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
- Coventry City Council page about the system
- University of Warwick page about the system
- Very Light Rail Innovation Centre
- Very Light Rail (VLR) as a means of delivering low-cost railways - Dr Nick Mallinson Programme Manager, WMG (PDF)