A CONTRACT has been awarded to a Stratford firm to design a light-rail people mover on Coventry streets.
The tram-style electric railway system could be installed in the city and connect the train station and the high speed rail network at a new HS2 interchange station near the NEC.
Transport Design International will create the driverless, lightweight, battery-operated vehicle.
It will be tested at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre in Dudley before a permanent tracked route is created in Coventry.
Those behind the plan say the prototype vehicle will be capable of carrying 20 seated passengers and a maximum of 70 including standing passengers.
The Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) – based at the University of Warwick – has been granted more than £12million to develop the scheme.
The funds have come from government money allocated to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP).
Coun Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration at Coventry City Council and CWLEP board director, said: “This is a really important milestone in the development of a very light railway system in Coventry and we are delighted that WMG has appointed Transport Design International to design and build a completely new rail vehicle for Coventry.
“Battery technology is evolving all the time and creating a new very light rail system in Coventry will be a world-first.
“Routes will be considered, and since overhead cables won’t be needed, the light railway will be low-cost, quiet and environmentally-friendly.
“When I came up with the idea, it wasn’t just a system I was thinking of but the potential to design and build it here in the local area. This is a great first step in that ambition.”
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.
“The Local Growth Fund has contributed £2.46million 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.”