UK town seeks to become “Very Light Rail” innovation hub

The Guardian_imagesThe proposal, as described in a BBC News report, calls for a new rail station and “innovation center” to be built on the site of the old Dudley railway station. The center would develop and test what the council called “the next generation of light rail systems” for sale to cities worldwide. One of those next-generation systems would provide the train service connecting Dudley with the nearest mainline railroad station at Dudley Port: a concept known as Very Light Rail (VLR).First proposed for the Australian city of Newcastle, VLR uses smaller, lighter-weight, hybrid-powered rail cars to furnish service at lower cost than for standard light rail.
Dudley, a struggling industrial town northwest of Birmingham, England, has not had a direct passenger rail connection to the rest of the country since 1964, when the nationalized British Railways abandoned one-third of its total route mileage and closed half its passenger stations. Two stations roughly one mile outside of town offer rail service, but town officials in Dudley have endorsed a plan that would bring trains back into the center of the town and, they hope, revive its economy at the same time.

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