Dudley's 'Very Light Rail' bid is given the go ahead

Work to create the world’s leading research and innovation centre for very light rail is set to go ahead after a multi million funding bid is approved.

Dudley Council has been awarded more than £18million by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership towards the cost of its ambitious project to develop a very light rail innovation hub and test track in the heart of Dudley town centre, on the site of the old Dudley railway station.

It is hoped that the new centre will help to revolutionise very light rail technology with Dudley leading the way globally in this field.

Once built, the hub will research ways to reduce the weight and cost of railcars, creating cheaper connections between suburban and rural areas and providing a cheaper alternative to heavy rail and traditional ‘Metro’ urban transport systems.

This part of the project is expected to cost in the region of £25million and a funding bid for the remaining £7million has been submitted to the government.  This will be used towards the cost of the build as well as research and equipment costs. Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for planning and economic development, said:

“This is the news we’ve been waiting for.  We know Dudley has what it takes to lead very light rail technology globally and we now have the investment we need to get this project of the ground.”

Stewart Towe, chair of the Black Country LEP added: 

“This is great news for Dudley and the Black Country as a whole. We have the potential to generate massive opportunities in investment through projects such as these which will put Black Country expertise at the forefront globally.”

The £18m funding decision will go back to the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership in November to be rubber stamped. 

Warwickshire Manufacturing Group, a department of the University of Warwick is spearheading the project with support from the council. In total, the project is expected to cost in the region of £29million.

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