A sneak peek has been give into the development of Coventry’s new trams as the first prototype of one of the vehicles continues to take shape.

The Very Light Rail (VLR) project is creating an innovative light rail system which will be battery-powered, lightweight and rail-based.

In March 2019 a 3D simulation of the vehicle was released, and despite Covid-19 lockdowns, the vehicle build is progressing on schedule at NP Aerospace in Coventry.

It has been  developed by engineers at WMG, University of Warwick, who have been working with TDI (Transport Design International).

The driver’s desk and other sub systems now in place and the vehicle is expected to be finished in February 2021 ready for testing at the new rail innovation centre in Dudley.

Dr James Meredith, from WMG at the University of Warwick, said: “WMG are delighted that the vehicle build is running on plan in spite of Covid-19.”

He added: “The project is an excellent showcase for UK engineering and manufacturing with over 70 % UK content.

“We look forward to testing the vehicle in 2021 alongside the innovative low cost trackform we are developing in parallel.”

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, took the opportunity to see how the construction of the prototype is progressing.

He said:“It is very exciting to see the VLR prototype take shape and for the project to take another big step towards becoming a reality.

“VLR will make a massive difference to our city, revolutionising travel and helping the environment.”

He added: “It will help keep our city at the forefront of the new transport industry and help us to attract new firms and jobs to take the city forward.

“It also helps cement our position at the centre of the green revolution with work such as UK Battery Innovation Centre.

“There has been some amazing work by all the project partners in some very difficult times and I can’t wait to see the next stages and watch it come out of the design rooms and on to our city’s streets.”

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Darren Smith, head of TDI, said: “TDI are extremely pleased with the progress to date on the project and are looking forward to delivering the vehicle to our client in early 2021, so that it can begin its testing phase at the new VLRIC in Dudley.

“The teams involved in the delivery process across our full supply chain have worked tremendously hard, under difficult circumstances this year and I would like to thank them all for their efforts.”

NP Aerospace’s CEO James Kempston said: “It’s great to see the progress that has been made on the Very Light Rail project at our facility in Coventry at a time when all businesses are feeling the pressure of the pandemic.

“The platform will offer significant benefits for local people and the wider economy and we are honoured to have been selected to be part of the project.”

He added: “The team have worked very hard to ensure a high level of build quality and we are looking forward to the final release of the vehicle early next year.

“It is also very encouraging to be part of a development which will have a significant environmental impact.”

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