Coventry light rail scheme a step closer

Lightweight, battery-powered autonomous public transport could be coming to Coventry.

A research and development project that could lead to very light rail (VLR) services operating in Coventry is now well underway.

To move this important and innovative project forward and ultimately deliver a very light rail scheme across the city, Coventry City Council is looking to engage with the private sector.

It is hoped that the Council will eventually form a joint venture to deliver the first route in Coventry.

The Coventry VLR will be the first system of its type in the country. Lightweight, battery-powered vehicles, capable of autonomous operation, will operate on specially designed tracks that can be installed with the minimum of disruption.

The system will provide the attractiveness of a traditional tram system at a fraction of the cost, providing an affordable public transport solution for smaller towns and cities.

The VLR system will be cleaner, with zero emissions from the tail-pipe, and will fit into historic city centre environments without the need for overhead wires and equipment.

By providing an attractive public transport service on key corridors, it will aim to reduce road congestion and help reduce harmful emissions from transport in the city.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “We have already made significant progress with the development of the vehicle and we want to build on the investment and progress of the groundbreaking VLR scheme. We are now really keen to test the level of interest from potential bidders.

“These are exciting times for the city. We are looking to develop a scheme that is much more cost-effective than traditional light rail systems whilst using the latest technologies.”

The formal procurement process for the joint venture opportunity will commence following soft market testing and is expected to run from January 2020 for 12 months.

It is anticipated that the joint venture will complete all outstanding research and development activities, devise the business case for the first route in the Coventry region, procure the necessary planning and statutory consents, complete the design and construction of the first route and potentially operate the system.