Bespoke Light Rail

Working in partnership, TDI and Severn Lamb designed and supplied their first purpose-built, light rail train in 2011. This two car unit is powered by a wayside conductor rail and operates a shuttle service along a short section of track at ‘Al Hoota Caves’ near the capital city Muscat (lower image) in the Sultanate of Oman.

Following on from this in the summer of 2015, a second, standard gauge vehicle type was developed for a private operator in central Turkey. The award winning 'ULR Express' is a bi-directional, 18m long, diesel-electric railcar with 66 seats and an overall maximum carrying capacity of 120. Operating at speeds up to 65kph, it has a 3% gradient capability and can turn comfortably on a 50m radius.

  • Global Light Rail Award 2016 2
  • ABH in TDI livery

The underlying concept is to be able to offer a bespoke design and supply service to customers in potentially 'one-off' or niche applications where conventional light rail is inappropriate. It involves providing lighter weight, smaller capacity and consequently lower cost vehicles and infrastructure than would otherwise be affordable and allows rails be laid over existing services if necessary, without the need to relocate them.

Just as with the rubber-tyred 'Minitrams', the manufacturing philosophy borrows heavily from the commercial vehicle/bus industry by taking advantage of off-the-shelf, high volume components and state-of-the-art electric and hybrid drive technology. The body shell utilises a modular system of bolt-together aluminium, honeycomb and composite panels, flush-bonded glazing and powered plug-sliding doors. This method of manufacture affords easy reconfiguration to meet specific customer needs, without the need for substantial retooling. Furthermore, because these trains do not operate on mainline rail infrastructure, they need only meet street running tram and public service vehicle (bus) standards as opposed to heavy rail.


Sometimes called 'ultra light or 'very light' rail, these unique trains can be built to narrow or 'standard gauge' as required, either as single, bi-directional vehicle (with an option to have a cab at both ends) or as multiple unit consists. Internal layouts and aesthetics can be varied to suit individual needs and the ratio of seated and standing accommodation adjusted.


Vehicles can be powered in a number of ways according to specific operating and environmental considerations:• trackside current collection using a 'Conductix' type system or inductive power transfer• pure EV mode using LION or lead acid traction batteries• clean diesel, LPG or bio-ethanol powered generator to drive the electric bogies• series hybrid with additional batteries to provide a pure EV capability along environmentally sensitive sections of the route including stations and pedestrianised areas.


All vehicles are DDA/RVAR compliant and can be fitted with full heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems specified to meet local operating conditions.

  • Al Hoota on line

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