'Revolution VLR' Project

'Revolution VLR' is a consortium of UK companies, led by TDI, which is dedicated to the development of next generation, 'very light rail' technology. A key aim of the project is to facilitate low cost connectivity of regional and rural areas. TDI, who is already leading the field in the design of lighter, light rail vehicles, believes that such an approach is fundamental to the provision of integrated and sustainable, short range public transport systems both now and in the future.

In November 2013, the Consortium was successful in winning financial support from EIT (the RSSB Future Railway Enabling Innovation Team funded by the DfT) for developing a unique self-powered bogie with an integral, hybrid propulsion and kinetic energy recovery system. It utilises off-the-shelf, commercial vehicle componentry where practical to reduce overall manufacturing cost and improve reliability and maintainability.

In parallel with the bogie design, the team will also evaluate the application of existing, essentially ‘heavy rail’, safety standards to very light railcars and produce a discussion paper for consideration by RSSB and other stakeholders in the 'Future Railway' programme.

TDI is supported by WMG (University of Warwick) who have pioneering experience in the light-weighting of automotive body structures for OEMs such as Jaguar Land Rover; Unipart Rail who have one of the largest bogie overhaul centres in Europe and are industry leaders in management of the rolling stock supply chain and Prose AG who are a specialist bogie engineering company. Key technology providers include: Cummins, Magnomatics, Magtec and Unipart Powertrain Applications.

Following a demonstration of the bogie technology in the laboratory early in 2016, the next phase of the project will involve installing one prototype bogie under a light weight railcar for extensive track-based trials. Called 'Revolution' this will be a next generation version of the 'ULR Express' railcar developed originally by TDI and Severn Lamb.

It is expected to start manufacture of the Revolution demonstration vehicle in early 2017 through a special purpose company called VLR Technologies Ltd.

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