Town firm leads £3million rail revolution

An artist's impression of how the next generation of train would look at Stratford station.

A PROJECT consortium that was set up by Stratford-based Transport Design International Ltd (TDI) has been given £2.75million by the Department for Transport to develop the next generation of trains.

TDI will work with Axiom Rail, Cummins and the University of Warwick over the next 18 months to design and build a demonstrator Very Light Rail (VLR) vehicle.

It is the second phase of the consortium’s project, which back in 2016 saw it draw up a concept design for the Revolution railcar, as it has been named, as well as a fully tested diesel-electric hybrid propulsion system. It was funded by a £1million grant from the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB).

The vehicle has been designed to run on segregated lines on short routes and offer a low-cost, environmentally-friendly and efficient transport service.

Initial tests will be carried out at the Rail Technology Centre in Long Marston before further tests on the West Midlands rail network in 2019.

They will cost significantly less than £1million with a number of UK routes already identified for first passenger services.

Martin Pemberton, managing director of TDI, said: “The UK rail industry is in urgent need of vehicles which are lighter, more energy efficient and cheaper to purchase and operate.

“Meanwhile, rural and suburban communities around the country are eager for more efficient, better connected public transport services for their local areas, which do not rely solely on conventional road-going solutions such as buses.

“A new type of rail vehicle is needed, especially for short routes where operating traditional heavy rail or tram solutions is uneconomic.

“The emerging VLR sector aims to remedy this, by harnessing technology from the automotive sector to create hybrid or all-electric self-propelled vehicles which are lightweight, energy efficient, cheap to manufacture and operate and targeted at the needs of communities.”

TDI won the prestigious Global Light Rail Award for Outstanding Engineering Achievement 2016 for a similar-sized vehicle, self-powered by a diesel-electric generator that it designed and built with Alcester-based Severn Lamb for a private customer in Konya, Turkey.