RLB makes tracks with Midlands Very Light Rail Programme


RLB UK continues to make tracks in the Midlands by commencing this week on the third phase of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council’s innovative Very Light Rail (VLR) project, having value engineered a £3m cost saving to the client. RLB UK has also played a key role in Coventry City Council’s recently securing almost £1.8m from the Getting Building Fund through Coventry and Warwickshire LEP.

Appointed by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and Coventry City Council respectively, the RLB UK team is responsible for providing cost management and employer’s agent solutions on both projects, as well as supporting both councils in gaining funding for the pioneering transport technologies and associated transport schemes.

Following commencement in September 2019, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council has so far seen the successful completion of phase one – site preparation works, followed by the start of phase two – construction of Test Track 1 (TT1) which will complete in January 2021. The 2.2km single test track will be fundamental to the evaluation of VLR technology. Phase three of the project will deliver the new national innovation centre, overseen by the recently formed Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO). The objective is to create a new Very Light Rail industry, supporting the manufacture and uptake of lower cost VLR solutions across the UK.

With Coventry City Council’s VLR demonstrator vehicle currently under assembly and expected to be delivered to Dudley early 2021, urban Very Light Rail systems takes a step closer to being implemented on the streets of towns and cities across the UK. Innovation partner Ingerop and Warwick Manufacturing Group have been appointed to design a revolutionary track system to reduce the track form depth of this light rail system, which in turn reduces costs. RLB has been working with Coventry City Council and their design partners to ensure these objectives are met.  

Andy Stamps, Head of Infrastructure for RLB UK comments, “The Very Light Rail programme is far more than just a way of connecting people. What this technological advancement does, is allow us across the UK to build transportation systems that deliver far greater value, without the traditional impact on the environment they occupy. This will bring accessibility and encourage social mobility to areas where the cost of other solutions prohibits investment. We are delighted to be involved in such innovative projects and ones that will surely shape the way we provide sustainable transportation solutions – not only in the UK but worldwide.”

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council said: “The Very Light Rail test track and national innovation centre is a key project for our borough. The new facility will develop innovative ways to reduce the weight and cost of railcars and track for a more affordable alternative to traditional rail and Metro transport. “The world’s eyes will be on Dudley as we work with partners to develop very light rail projects, which will revolutionise light rail technology globally. I’m looking forward to this project moving quickly through to delivery.”

Nick Mallinson, Chief Executive of the BCIMO continues “this initiative is about developing a new form of low-cost rail based transport which will be manufactured and installed by UK companies and in particular supported by manufacturing companies in Dudley and the wider Black Country. We are pleased to be working closely with RLB who are demonstrating great vision and foresight in their involvement in the project.”

Nicola Small, VLR Programme Manager at Coventry City Council comments “We opted to appoint RLB for our quantity surveying requirements due to their breadth of experience in the VLR field, their innovative approach, and their favourable and competitive rates. We have been delighted with their input into the VLR programme – it’s refreshing to work alongside innovative thinkers with a desire to solve complex problems by thinking laterally.”


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BDC 319 : Aug 2024