Route where trams could travel across city

Warwickshire Telegraph - - NEWS - By LAURA HART­LEY

A POS­SI­BLE route for Coven­try’s new trams has been re­vealed.

The idea of a new tram sys­tem for the city was put for­ward two years ago by Coun­cil­lor Jim O’Boyle, Coven­try’s cab­i­net mem­ber for jobs and re­gen­er­a­tion.

He be­lieved ground­break­ing tech­nol­ogy be­ing de­vel­oped at WMG at the Univer­sity of War­wick could be used to de­liver the am­bi­tious project.

Two years later, and Cllr O’Boyle has told the Tele­graph that he re­mains hope­ful of the trams go­ing through the city cen­tre to link sev­eral points - in­clud­ing Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal Coven­try and War­wick­shire.

It could see the new­est mode of trans­port com­ing to the city link Jaguar Land Rover, War­wick Univer­sity, the city cen­tre and help solve the traf­fic woes at UHCW.

Cllr O’Boyle said: “We haven’t mapped out the routes yet but it’s some­thing we will be mak­ing pub­lic in the New Year.

“There are two el­e­ments to this.

“We want this to go through the city cen­tre, we want to link to JLR, War­wick Univer­sity.

“Pos­si­bly the first one we want to do is UHCW.

“It would be im­por­tant to move peo­ple away from other forms of trans­port as it is very busy.

“We have to do a lot of con­struc­tion on it.”

One of the pro­posed routes would link Coven­try rail­way sta­tion to the HS2 ter­mi­nal at the NEC near Birm­ing­ham Air­port.

Cllr O’Boyle added that a pro­to­type is be­ing built at this mo­ment.

He said: “The pro­to­type is be­ing de­vel­oped and ex­perts are work­ing on track sys­tems.

“Thing are go­ing along quite well and we are look­ing to do things ear­lier than ex­perts ex­pected.”

Trans­port De­sign In­ter­na­tional, which is based at Clif­ford Cham­bers in Strat­ford-up­onAvon, has won a ten­der to cre­ate a state-of-theart, light­weight, bat­tery­op­er­ated, rail-guided ve­hi­cle which will ul­ti­mately be ca­pa­ble of op­er­at­ing driver.

They will work with WMG, part of Univer­sity of War­wick, to de­sign and con­struct an in­no­va­tive very light rail ve­hi­cle which will be part of a new trans­port so­lu­tion for Coven­try.

The sys­tem, which would see trams re­turn to Coven­try for the first time since 1940, would in all like­li­hood be based out of a cen­tral hub as part of the on­go­ing Coven­try Rail­way Sta­tion Mas­ter­plan.

Trams would re­turn to Coven­try’s streets for the first time since 1940 at a frac­tion of the cost of sys­tems in other cities.

Cllr O’Boyle be­lieves the first route could be de­liv­ered for as lit­tle as £42mil­lion - com­pared

with­out

a to a cost of £150m per mile for the Mid­land Metro sys­tem in Birm­ing­ham.

Cllr O’Boyle ad­mits a lot of hur­dles have to be over­come for the Very Light Rail (VLR) project to come to fruition but be­lieves the cost is a strong point in its favour.

The project, funded by the Gov­ern­ment’s Lo­cal Growth Fund through the Coven­try and War­wick­shire Lo­cal En­ter­prise Part­ner­ship (CWLEP) and the West Mid­lands Com­bined Author­ity De­vo­lu­tion Deal, is be­ing man­aged by re­searchers from WMG at the Univer­sity of War­wick in col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Coven­try City Coun­cil and Trans­port for West Mid­lands.

A to­tal of £12.2 mil­lion has been se­cured from the West Mid­lands Com­bined Author­ity (WMCA) De­vo­lu­tion Deal fund­ing to un­der­take the re­search and de­vel­op­ment re­quired to prove the VLR con­cept.

In ad­di­tion, the WMCA has al­lo­cated spe­cial­ist re­source from Trans­port for West Mid­lands to pro­vide tech­ni­cal sup­port, ad­vice and guid­ance to the project team as the scheme de­vel­ops.

Mon­ica Fog­a­rty, chair of the Coven­try and War­wick­shire Lo­cal En­ter­prise Part­ner­ship (CWLEP) Trans­port and In­fra­struc­ture Busi­ness Group, and joint man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of War­wick­shire County Coun­cil, said this once again em­pha­sised the area’s rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing pi­o­neers in trans­port tech­nol­ogy.

She said: “Trans­port De­sign In­ter­na­tional has gained in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion for their ex­per­tise in the very light rail sec­tor be­cause of their vast ex­pe­ri­ence in work­ing with part­ners to de­sign and sup­ply rev­o­lu­tion­ary trans­port sys­tems,” she said.

The Lo­cal Growth Fund has con­trib­uted £2.46 mil­lion to­wards phase one of the re­search and de­sign of the pro­to­type of the bat­tery-pow­ered, self-pro­pelled trains.

This will be a great op­por­tu­nity to at­tract fur­ther jobs and in­vest­ment to Coven­try and War­wick­shire.”

The VLR sys­tem will be com­pat­i­ble with Mid­land Metro and the coun­cil will work col­lab­o­ra­tively with TfWM to en­sure op­er­at­ing sys­tems, brand­ing and in­for­ma­tion are con­sis­tent across the West Mid­lands.

The pro­to­type ve­hi­cle will be ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing 20 seated pas­sen­gers and a max­i­mum of 70 in­clud­ing standees.

It will be tested at the Very Light Rail Na­tional In­no­va­tion Cen­tre in Dud­ley be­fore a per­ma­nent tracked route is in­stalled across Coven­try and a fleet of ve­hi­cles man­u­fac­tured.

Con­struct­ing a Very Light Rail­way will cre­ate a world of op­por­tu­ni­ties for Coven­try, and the lat­est tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped by the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor.

James Mered­ith, very light rail project man­ager at WMG, said: “This is a great op­por­tu­nity to bring the lat­est tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped by the au­to­mo­tive sec­tor in ma­te­ri­als, bat­ter­ies and elec­tric propul­sion to de­liver an af­ford­able rail­way for Coven­try.”

Martin Pem­ber­ton, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Trans­port De­sign In­ter­na­tional, added: “As cham­pi­ons of sus­tain­able, light­weight trans­port so­lu­tions, the TDI team is very proud to have been se­lected to un­der­take this ex­cit­ing, flag­ship project for Coven­try.

“We look for­ward to work­ing closely with the city coun­cil and WMG to bring their as­pi­ra­tions to re­al­ity.”

News Re­porter laura.hart­[email protected]­plc.com

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