25th Jun, 2022

BREAKING: Plan unveiled for 'driverless' light-rail people-mover in Coventry

Les Reid 28th Sep, 2017

PLANS to return a light rail people mover system to Coventry’s streets using pioneering modern technology -potentially without a driver – have moved a step forward.

As we exclusively revealed in October last year, the initial plan has been to move people around the city and connect Coventry city centre with the new HS2 high speed rail Birmingham interchange station near the NEC and Birmingham Airport planned for 2026.

Now the plan in development for a ‘unique rapid transit light rail’ system has been unveiled by researchers at Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick, alongside leading Coventry councillors.

They have unveiled today details of a £6m research and development project to ‘connect the city using state-of-the-art, lightweight, battery-operated, driverless rail vehicles on a low cost track, which will be designed and built in UK.’

The project’s leaders says old-style trams in the UK are imported and very costly – so the aim is to create a UK supply chain for manufacturing lightweight rail vehicles and tracks, to it more affordable for passengers.

The first demonstrator vehicle is estimated to be built and ready for testing by Spring 2019.

The idea has been explored since last year by the council’s cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, councillor Jim O’Boyle, and deputy cabinet member, councillor David Welsh.

It is the first time since the 1990s that proposals to return what some will regard as a ‘modern tram-style system’ to the city’s streets have been on the table.

The project will be funded by the government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and West Midlands Combined Authority Devolution Deal (subject to approval of the business case).

The project team says: “These small rail vehicles will have the capability to operate autonomously without a driver, which will reduce the operational costs and enable more frequent services for passengers.

“The vehicles will be battery operated using rapid charging solutions and therefore will not require overhead cables.”

WMG, and Warwick’s School of Engineering, are also developing a ‘novel track solution’ for the system.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, chairman of WMG, said: “Delivering research and innovation for the creation of technological solutions and the expansion of British manufacturing has always been at the heart of WMG.

“I am delighted that Coventry is adopting this cutting-edge very light rail technology, which will benefit the city and will set a new trend for urban public transport.”

Labour leading councillor O’Boyle, who is also a CWLEP board director, said, “This kind of innovation is what WMG, Warwick University and in fact Coventry do best and it’s really good to think that our city is at the very front of new advances in transport.”

He added it would offer a ‘really frequent’ service – “a real hop on, hop off service, which will help to take cars off our roads – important when traffic is growing rapidly and economic success relies on keeping people moving.”

Support community journalism by making a contribution

The Coventry Observer's team of journalists provide a trusted source of news, sport, entertainment and events going on in your area and issues which matter to you - both via our free weekly print edition and daily updates on our website.

Every contribution, however big or small, you can make will help us continue to do that now and in the future.

Thanks for reading this and the Coventry Observer.


Support Us

Are you on Facebook?

Like or follow our Facebook page - facebook.com/CovObserver to get daily news updates straight to your news feed.

Property Finder 24/7

Search for properties in Worcestershire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands.

Online Editions

Catch up on your local news by reading our e-editions on the Coventry Observer.

Reader Travel

Check out all of the latest reader travel offers to get your hands on some free gifts.

Subscribe

Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.