WMG Catapult Centre has partnered with a group of academics and transport industry organisations on the Very Light Rail Project. The main objective of the project is to reduce the weight and cost of a railcar by half in order to facilitate low cost connectivity of suburban and rural areas. The Radical Train will demonstrate unique self-powered bogies (with integral hybrid propulsion and kinetic energy recovery system) combined with a modular, lightweight body-shell utilising advanced materials. WMG will be transferring expertise in lightweighting technology from the automotive sector into this project. Automotive lightweighting solutions are already employing advanced materials including ultra-high strength steels and fibre-reinforced polymer composites.
The Times newspaper on Saturday reported on the development and trial of the lightweight ‘no-frills mini trains’, which may make it possible to re-open up to 5,000 miles of little-used track that were shut in the 1960 by Dr Beeching, the Chairman of British Railways at the time. The reduced weight and size of the trains means they use significantly less power to operate, which makes their application viable on low-use routes.
Lots of lines that Beeching closed could benefit from this. A lot of local councils are saying that they want to reopen them. This is about try to provide, in many areas, extra feeder lines coming into existing rail stations from the suburbs or rural hinterland.
Dr Nick Mallinson, WMG HVM Catapult centre