Researchers have unveiled an early concept design of what a tram system in Coventry, England, could look like.
The autonomous “very light rail” system is subject to approval of the business case and is said to be cheaper, quieter and more environmentally friendly than anything currently available, according to the University of Warwick.
Researchers say that traditional solutions cost around £3 million per tram, but the project aims to make trams more affordable by creating a supply chain for manufacturing lightweight rail vehicles and tracks and developing a novel low-cost track solution that can be easily embedded into roads.
The “small” trams will be driverless and battery operated using rapid charging solutions – which will remove the need for overhead cables.
The first vehicle demonstration is expected in spring 2019, at the soon-to-be-built Hub to Home Transport Innovation Centre in Dudley.
Representatives from the university’s research arm, WMG, will meet with Coventry City councillors to showcase the latest plans which have been developed through an initial feasibility study.
The £6 million research and development project has been funded by the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and West Midlands Combined Authority Devolution Deal.
Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership board director councillor Jim O’Boyle said: “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. This means it will be able to be really frequent – 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.”