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Coventry pushes ahead with plans for very light rail

Coventry pushes ahead with plans for very light rail

The city of Coventry could soon see the construction of a very light rail network, a form of transport that is much cheaper to run than the modern trams seen in neighbouring cities like Birmingham and Nottingham. 

Researchers at the University of Warwick-based WMG have been developing technology that would enable very lightweight vehicles to run on tracks across the streets of the city. 

Unlike normal tram systems, they would be run using batteries charged by trackside points, rather than overhead lines, which will cut construction costs. They can also be driverless, like the vehicles on London's Docklands Light Railway. 

Cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at the city council Jim O'Boyle commented: "Very light rail will be quicker and cheaper to build and run than any of the tram systems currently operating in the UK. The track will be easier and quicker to lay and in the future, the system will be able to operate without drivers."
The research has been funded by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and West Midlands Combined Authority Devolution Deal, with the money coming from the Local Growth Fund.

Coventry may be a prime candidate for such a system, as it has a population of 330,000 but just four railway stations. Of these, one is Coventry Station in the centre, with two in the south-western suburbs on the line to Birmingham and a stop on the northern edge of the city by the Ricoh Arena, where, curiously, trains do not stop on football and rugby match days. This leaves large areas of the city reliant on buses and thus prone to congestion. 

The Midlands Metro currently links Birmingham and Wolverhampton, with plans in place for westward extensions to Edgbaston and Dudley. However, future plans include connecting the HS2 hub at Curzon Street and then taking a line further east as far as Birmingham Airport, which will be adjacent to another HS2 hub.

Mr O'Boyle told the Coventry Telegraph this week that the very light rail system could link Coventry with this station, thus giving the city its own connection with HS2.

Image: iStock


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