New pictures released today show Dudley’s pioneering Very Light Rail project remains firmly on track.
Dudley Council bosses joined their counterparts from Coventry City Council for a tour around the site on Castle Hill, viewing the test track and the progress of work on the imposing three-storey Innovation Centre.
The new test track runs from the foot of Castle Hill to Cinder Bank Island and supports Dudley’s ambition of being an international centre for rail innovation. It will soon be home to the Coventry VLR prototype vehicle, which will undergo extensive testing at the site in Dudley this year. The track will also be open to other clients.
In August last year the West Midlands Combined Authority supported a £13million bid to bridge the remaining funding required for the scheme. The combined authority has also supported the VLR scheme as part of its wider vision for the West Midlands. The project is being led by the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO).
Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said:
"I have been a regular visitor to the site over the last 18 months or so, but I am surprised every time I come by how much it has moved on.
"It is great to see the test track in place and to have a walk around to see more progress being made on the innovation centre.
"I look forward to the arrival of the prototype vehicle later this year and the chance to see VLR in action, in our borough, with Dudley playing a key role as a world leader in new pioneering rail technology."
Councillor Simon Phipps, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said:
"It was my first visit to the VLR site today, and I was blown away by it.
"Dudley Council continues to work closely with Coventry and BCIMO to drive this fantastic project forward, and it was great to see first-hand the big strides that have already been made in making this a reality.
"The opening of the track puts Dudley one step closer to becoming a global leader in rail innovation and greener transport solutions.
"It is an important part of our £1 billion regeneration programme that’s transforming our borough.
Nick Mallinson, CEO of BCIMO, said:
"We were delighted to welcome key figures from both councils to the site today for a tour to show the progress we have made.
"Our new test track will provide a major step forward in the delivery of a world class innovation centre and I am pleased that we already have several clients ready to start using the facility."
The centre aims to develop a new Very Light Rail (VLR) industry, encouraging market demand, developing new solutions and creating a UK manufacturing supply chain centred on the Black Country.
VLR offers a new, lower-cost, public transport solution that is set to transform the rail industry, providing integrated VLR systems as an alternative to heavy rail and traditional Metro transport.
The new centre, to be completed early next year, will sit next to the test track and is being delivered by the council. The centre will boast a triple-height engineering hall, research laboratories, conference and seminar rooms and offices for 45 people. There will also be public areas, including exhibition spaces and an auditorium.
For more information people can visit www.bcimo.co.uk