What’s new in Very Light Rail Innovation in 2023?

Paul Salkeld, head of Design, reflects on our previous Very Light Rail Innovations and our recent vehicle launches. Our followers asked us how our Very Light Rail innovations will impact the next phase of TDI’s award-winning achievements in 2023.

‘In the last year we launched new vehicles. For Rail live we showcased the Revolution Very Light Rail vehicle. It encapsulates a lot of the innovative solutions TDI has been developing for rail vehicle construction and cleaner propulsion systems. The response from the industry to what we are offering has been very positive. Its all been about focussing on a particular market demand to reduce significantly the carbon footprint of transport.’ Paul Salkeld, Head of Design.

TDI designed and manufactured the Revolution VLR demonstrator vehicle. This is currently on show and running at our facility at Ironbridge. A key aim of the vehicle is to facilitate low-cost connectivity of regional and rural areas. We are in active stakeholder discussions for UK and International VLR opportunities. By the end of 2022, we hosted 350 visitors in Ironbridge to experience Revolution VLR. Our work on Revolution VLR won the Made in the Midlands Automotive, Aerospace and Rail Award, 2022 and the Technical Innovation of the Year – Rolling Stock at the Global Light Rail Awards, 2022.

Historic projects include the design and manufacture of:

  • Coventry VLR for Coventry City Council
  • The Vectus programme for Suncheon Bay, South Korea

CVLR was handed over to Coventry City Council in October 2022, after commissioning and testing was completed at our site in Long Marston.

Aiming for zero emissions means our vehicle is battery powered. Having lightweight construction it can operate efficiently without a requirement for overhead powerlines. Instead it operates using fast charge technology that fits in seamlessly to the operating schedule. The vehicle is a low floor city tram with accessible features to meet the latest legislation. It can run on dedicated infrastructure or compliment existing system expansion.

What is the next Very Light Rail Innovation?

During the winter of 2022 coming into 2023, we introduced our next Innovation in Very Light Rail to interested stakeholders. Lync™ is a light urban transit vehicle designed to connect outlying communities with towns, city centres, and their main transport hubs. Lync is a spacious, long distance, zero-emissions transport vehicle with excellent manoeuvrability for urban locations. It is lightweight, bi-directional and includes very fast opportunity charging allowing 24-hour service.

What does this mean for our Innovation Team?

The Lync vehicle design builds on the lightweight construction and zero emission DNA that is established within our vehicle portfolio.

This vehicle type is for applications requiring increased passenger capacity. This is still within the market scope of Very Light Rail for urban applications requiring dedicated transport solutions with limited intrusion to the urban realm. Lighter weight means a lighter weight track base and less wear to track. With no overhead lines required it will also offer a solution to augment public transport in a city scape.

The Innovation team are constantly developing ideas that suit the changing operational and interface parameters that set by our clients and commercial team. For instance we are currently developing a tracking and sensing system for a freight application giving a level of autonomy which we will transfer to our passenger projects offering great advantages for safety.

Where is Very Light Rail in 2023 Internationally?

UK remains the hub of Innovation in Very Light Rail.

TDI, together with one of our project partners Eversholt Rail, recently presented at the European Light Rail Conference 2023. We detailed our approach and ambition to move light rail further forward to support carbon net zero.

‘It’s been a great experience to sponsor the European Light Rail Congress 2023 and pioneer the conversations on Very Light Rail. It’s clear that across Europe we have similar ambitions on sustainability and community.’ Darren Smith, Commercial Director, Transport Design International

Paul recognises that Urban Transport Solutions are needed globally and he is leading our teams to achieve this.