Plans to develop battery powered tram system for Coventry gather pace

Plans to build a battery-powered light rail tram system in Coventry are a step closer to fruition following the appointment of local firm NP Aerospace as the assembly contractor for the project.

tram system
Left to right: Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, CCC, James Kempston, CEO, NP Aerospace,Rupert Symons, Director, TDI, Dr James Meredith, VLR project manager, WMG. Image: Coventry City Council

Described as the first of its kind in the UK , the Coventry Very Light Rail (CVLR) project will see the development and demonstration of a prototype light rail system that will ultimately run on the city’s local road network.

Aimed at delivering the benefits of conventional trams but at a fraction of the cost, the Coventry City Council led project – which also involves WMG and Transport Design International (TDI) – the system will see the deployment of a fleet of zero-emissions, battery-powered shuttles and could pave the way for similar schemes in other UK cities.

WMG and TDI have been working with NP Aerospace throughout August  to begin assembly of the vehicle, and are ow constructing the sleek, carbon fibre and metallic structure that will form the backbone of the vehicle.

WMG engineers unveil 3D simulation of CVLR system

From the archive: Blackpool’s electric trams

The finished vehicle  – which is claimed to be the first of its kind – will be capable of comfortably carrying 56 passengers and will be tested on the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre Test Track at Castle Hill in Dudley early next year.

The ultimate plan is to install a tracked route across Coventry supported by a fleet of locally manufactured vehicles. The first route will provide a service between the Rail Station and Walsgrave Hospital and will offer residents, workers, and tourists an affordable, quick, and environmentally friendly way of travelling around the city.

Commenting on the project,  Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council said:  “This project will be the first of its kind in the world. It is being led by world beating local automotive experience and is using cutting-edge materials. I firmly believe that VLR is the future of public transport in small and medium sized towns and I couldn’t be happier that it’s being designed and built here in Coventry with the skills and expertise that we have right here.”

Dr Darren Hughes, Associate Professor at WMG, University of Warwick added: “The Coventry Very Light Rail project will deliver a step change cost reduction for light rail in the UK. We are really proud that this marks the beginning of the journey to roll out low cost, rail-based transport for medium sized cities in the UK. We are particularly pleased that despite current global challenges we can continue to work with TDI, NP Aerospace and the supply chain to deliver this novel rail vehicle on time and budget.”