NP Aerospace Diversifies into Very Light Rail

Very Light Rail Prototype

NP Aerospace UK manufacturing facilities are home to the construction of a prototype innovative light rail vehicle for the City of Coventry – extending the company’s core military and defence portfolio into the transport infrastructure sector.

The Coventry Very Light Rail (VLR) is an innovative light rail system which will be battery powered, lightweight and rail-based and will run on the local road network.

NP Aerospace, which has a long heritage building military vehicles, has been appointed as the assembly contractor joining WMG at the University of Warwick and Transport Design International (TDI) who are partners on the innovation side of the project. Thanks to NP Aerospace’s specialised facilities, engineers from each company have been able to continue their work safely throughout the pandemic.

The finished carbon structure vehicle will be capable of comfortably carrying 56 passengers. It is the first of its kind and is scheduled to start on track testing early next year. The project is led by Coventry City Council in close collaboration with WMG at University of Warwick and Transport Design International. In March 2019 a 3D simulation of the vehicle was released, and even with Covid-19 lockdowns, the vehicle build is progressing on schedule at NP Aerospace in Coventry.

On 25th November Coventry City Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Coventry Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, took the opportunity to visit NP Aerospace to see how the construction of the prototype is progressing. The build is swiftly reaching completion with the driver’s desk and other sub systems now in place. The vehicle is expected to be finished in February 2021 ready for testing at the new rail innovation centre in Dudley.

Dr James Meredith, from WMG at the University of Warwick comments: “The project is an excellent showcase for UK engineering and manufacturing with over 70 % UK content. We look forward to testing the vehicle in 2021 alongside the innovative low cost trackform we are developing in parallel.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Coventry Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said: “It is very exciting to see the VLR prototype take shape. VLR will make a massive difference to our city, revolutionising travel and helping the environment.”

Darren Smith, Head of TDI comments: “TDI are extremely pleased with the progress to date on the project and are looking forward to delivering the vehicle to our client in early 2021, so that it can begin its testing phase at the new VLRIC in Dudley.”

James Kempston, CEO NP Aerospace, comments: “It’s great to see the progress that has been made on the Very Light Rail project at our facility in Coventry at a time when all businesses are feeling the pressure of the pandemic. The platform will offer significant benefits for local people and the wider economy and we are honoured to have been selected to be part of the project.”