The battery-powered Very Light Rail (VLR) vehicle, which will hold 50 passengers, is being developed in collaboration with Transport Design International (TDI), based in Stratford and Coventry firm RDM which plans to manufacture the first test-vehicle by the middle of 2020.
The ultimate aim of the project – which has received a total of almost £15m through The government’s Local Growth Fund the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Devolution Deal - is to introduce a fleet of autonomously operated vehicles to the streets of Coventry, which passengers will be able hop on and off.
According to Coventry City Council because the vehicle is battery powered the technology won’t require overhead cables and will therefore be easier and less expensive to introduce than traditional tram systems.
Commenting on the project, WMG’s Dr Darren Hughes 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.”
Local councillor Jim O’Boyle added: “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.”