26th Jun, 2022

LETTERS: Challenges for light rail driverless people-mover in Coventry streets


Whilst Coventry Observer has covered the proposed Very Light Rail (VLR) scheme for Coventry exclusively in the past, I wanted to give readers further information regarding its development and progress.

It is a scheme I am passionate about but recognise the challenges ahead.

Firstly, we have settled on a pre-design for the carriage or car which is all based on proven technology within the car industry.

This now needs to be turned into a demonstrator vehicle. It will be powered by the latest electric battery technology being developed by Warwick Manufacturing Group based in Coventry.

Secondly, we have mapped out Coventry to look at what the ground itself is like and what civil engineering would be needed.

This should be fairly minimal due to a revolutionary design for track which is easy to lay and easy to lift for maintenance. This can be used on existing surfaces be it roads, pavements or soft ground if need be.

Thirdly, I wanted to touch on the cost. It is too early to be exact but overall to deliver a first route would be in the region of £42million. Compare that to Birmingham’s tram costing £150million per mile.

Overall, once you extend VLR it is reasonable to say it will be about ten times cheaper than Birmingham’s tram.

This is all subject to a solid business case being presented to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to access cash from the devolution deal agreed over two years ago.

At the moment, £2.5million has been secured from the WMCA to develop a prototype therefore not costing Coventry a penny.

Proof if ever was needed that Coventry can get a better deal out of the WMCA than Birmingham!

Finally, the idea of Very Light Rail is to provide a state-of-the-art, world-class public transport offer with zero emissions to the Coventry public.

Every great city has a good transport offer.

This could make Coventry’s offer not good but great!

Councillor Jim O’Boyle.


Recently the country rallied behind the brave ex-service men and women as they once again represented our country and battled for Gold at the Invictus Games in Toronto.

It has been great to see our veterans getting the attention they deserve and shining a light on some of the issues they have faced since leaving the military.

If there is one issue that stood out to me at this year’s Games, it was mental health. I was so impressed by the number of athletes suffering from PTSD who stepped up and were willing to share their stories, which has not always been the case.

People like Matt Neve (pictured), a 32-year-old ex-RAF driver from Wales, who talked about how sport helped his recovery and gave him a release from mental health issues he has endured for over a decade. The RAF Benevolent Fund stepped in and provided Matt with his archery equipment, which gave him something to focus on other than his PTSD and helped him switch off mentally. Matt placed Gold at this year’s Games.

While Invictus has opened the door for many veterans with mental health issues, sadly there are still plenty suffering in silence.

Tuesday 10 October marks World Mental Health Day – and another opportunity to encourage people to speak out about their mental health issues and get the support they need. This year’s theme is Mental Health in the Workplace. According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in five people in the workplace experience a mental health condition. The Armed Forces are no different.

At the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity, we have been helping the RAF Family with mental health issues for many years. We have also long worked with and financially supported Combat Stress, the leading veterans’ mental health charity. More recently we have been working with Anxiety UK to address issues head on, providing a helpline, therapy sessions and self-help materials.

Our partnerships have been working: of those who have accessed Anxiety UK’s therapy services to date, 60% have shown reliably recovery and 90% have reliably improved their levels of anxiety, stress and anxiety based depression.

While there is still a stigma associated with mental health, the situation has improved drastically from my days in the RAF, when mental health was rarely mentioned. However, with campaigns like World Mental Health Day and the Invictus Games, I am confident that we will soon reach a point where people will no longer feel that they have to suffer in silence.

If you know of someone who might benefit from our support please visit: www.rafbf.org/help for more information.

Air Vice-Marshal David Murray


Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund

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