Light, low-cost rail vehicles for low-density routes (RailEngineer)

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You want to reopen a disused rail line. You’ve got permission to do so, you have organised to close, re-route or otherwise deal with rights of way over the infrastructure and you have found a way to deal with the housing development that’s been built on the route and sorted out the design and construction or refurbishment of track and signalling systems.

The challenges are similar if you want to improve mobility in a town or city. Once you’ve sorted the infrastructure, you need to choose trains to run on the railway. Currently, choices are limited to up-cycled ex-Underground trains, Pacers or other old diesel trains. However, you want the railway to have green credentials and you do not see why a rail vehicle should be three times the weight of a bus and cost at least five times as much and, at best, look like “something of its time”!

There might be something different on the horizon.

In May 2018, Eversholt Rail, one of the UK’s rolling stock owners, announced that it had joined the Revolution VLR consortium and programme, the industry consortium that will develop, manufacture and market the Revolution VLR (very light rail) vehicle. The consortium, led by Transport Design International Ltd (TDI), includes WMG (formerly the Warwick Manufacturing Group) at the University of Warwick, Cummins, Unipart Rail and other companies from the automotive and rail sectors.

The Revolution VLR vehicle is intended to deliver lightweight, energy-efficient system solutions for affordable service growth and extension of the UK’s rail network. A bi-directional, 18-metre-long railcar, with seating for 56 passengers and standing room for a further 60, Revolution VLR will use lightweight materials and a modular structure to achieve a tare weight of less than one tonne per linear metre. This allows it to run on lightweight modular slab track. The vehicle will be self-propelled, achieve zero-emission launches from stations and be fitted with regenerative braking and optimised hybrid propulsion.

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Written by Long Branch Mike