Progress made on Coventry Very Light Rail prototype

Plans for a tram network in Coventry have taken a step forward as a local engineering company creates battery-powered prototype vehicles.

Plans to run a battery-powered very light rail transit system in Coventry have taken a major step forward with the help of a local engineering company.

NP Aerospace, which has a long heritage building military vehicles, has been appointed to assemble the rail-guided, battery-powered vehicles for Coventry’s planned Very Light Rail network, which will run on existing roads.

It will be the first tram network to operate in Coventry since the Second World War, being substantially cheaper than typical light railways by making use of batteries to avoid expensive overhead line equipment.

Engineers from NP Aerospace, working with partners at the University of Warwick, are now constructing the carbon fibre and metallic structure that will form the backbone of the vehicle.

The finished vehicle will be capable of comfortably carrying 56 passengers.

James Kempston, CEO at NP Aerospace, said that the project had “generated local jobs, reinforcing the regional workforce and supply chain”, especially beneficial during a time of economic downturn.

The prototype vehicle is set to be tested on the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre Test Track at in Dudley early next year.

Pictured: an original graphic visualisation of Coventry Very Light Rail vehicle prototypes.

The first permanent tracked route is planned to provide services between Coventry Railway Station and University Hospital Coventry, aiming to offer residents, commuters, and tourists an affordable, quick, and environmentally friendly way of travelling around the city.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle from Coventry City Council, who are spearheading the project, 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.

“The proposed VLR network is key to our vision for transport here in Coventry. We want our public transport to be efficient, affordable and most importantly environmentally friendly. I believe it’s going to revolutionise how we all travel in this city.”

The project is a partnership between WMG at the University of Warwick, Coventry City Council and Transport for West Midlands, funded by a multitude of Government funds, devolution deals and the CWLEP.