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Very Light Rail Now A Very Little Bit Closer

Rendering of the Coventry trams

Coventry's £6B plans for a so-called very light rail tram system have moved just a tiny bit closer with the award of a £10.5M design contract ahead of a first line opening in 2021.

The trams edge forward as Coventry's 3.2M SF Friargate development also shows signs of juddering progress.

The University of Warwick's Warwick Manufacturing Group will lead work into the design of the futuristic lightweight driverless vehicles, New Civil Engineer reports.

The trams will run on concrete track-slabs inserted into road surfaces. The lower weight means the project needs less-expensive track and less relocation of under-road pipes and utilities, which has proved the big expense in other metro tram systems, such as in Manchester.

The scheme could see a first line, from the railway station, open in time for Coventry's year as U.K. City of Culture in 2021. The remainder would open in 2023-24.

Lines could stretch to include the Jaguar Land Rover plant at Whitley, the Birmingham International HS2 station, the University of Warwick and Coventry University Hospital.

The first demonstrator vehicle could be ready for testing by spring 2019.

Very light rail for Coventry is being promoted by Coventry City Council with the backing of the West Midlands Combined Authority.