New track design for Coventry Very Light Rail unveiled

A new design of track – described as a breakthrough design – has been unveiled for use on the Coventry Very Light Rail scheme with the aim of driving down costs associated with the installation of urban light rail. Coventry City Council and WMG, University of Warwick showcased the new design at the end of September as the Coventry Very Light Rail project took a further step forward.

The new track has been designed by WMG, University of Warwick in partnership with Ingerop and its UK subsidiary Rendel with researchers from WMG speaking about the engineering challenges that had been overcome in the design of the track form.

Dr Darren Hughes, Associate Professor at WMG, University of Warwick, said: “The main driver of the Coventry VLR project was to make light rail as affordable and environmentally friendly as possible, and the track is the major part of this. Working with Ingerop we have successfully achieved this goal, making a unique track form using advanced materials and manufacturing processes which is not only affordable but also allows rapid installation, minimising disruption to local properties and businesses. The progress made is an excellent example of a city council, a university and an industry partner working together to solve a public transportation challenge.”

The novel track form is designed to sit just 30cm inside the road surface, making it easy to install and remove, significantly reducing the impact on utilities and potentially saving millions of pounds lost to excavation and moving gas, electrical and telecommunication systems. It is expected to just cost £10 million per km compared to current tram tracks which can cost upwards of £25 million per km, and up to £100 million per km in city centre locations.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Coventry City Council cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change, said: “It’s incredible to see this one-of-a-kind, Coventry-led project move even closer to completion. Coventry Very Light Rail has the potential to provide Coventry, and towns and cities across the UK, with an affordable, high-quality transport mode using clean, green energy and it further cements our ambition to lead the green industrial revolution. Originated, designed and developed right here in Coventry it also has the potential to support new jobs in the future. This new track form, the first of its kind, is a critical part of the project and we would not be here today without the help of our incredible partners, some of the best engineering talent anywhere in the world, based right here in Coventry. I want to congratulate WMG and Ingerop on their success so far and I look forward to seeing the first tracks laid on our city’s streets.”

Coventry Very Light Rail is being led by Coventry City Council and supported by a number of partners, including the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and the European Regional Development Fund.

A zero-emission, battery-powered lightweight shuttle vehicle is also being developed which will eventually become autonomous allowing a timetable free hop-on, hop-off service to be introduced in the city.

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