THE first Revolution Very Light Rail (VLR) vehicle is complete and will now start testing at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre (QRTC) in Long Marston, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Britain.

Demonstrations to potential sponsors and operators are expected to start in October, with an official launch planned for October at the disused Ironbridge line.

The vehicle is designed for branch line operation. The consortium behind its development believes it is ideal to support the reopening of closed lines and network extensions.

The bodyshell is built from recycled carbon fibre using a modular design and has a design speed of 104km/h. The vehicle is powered by hybrid diesel-electric powertrain adapted from automotive engine technology.

The VLR is also fitted with a lithium titanate battery pack that would be used to power the vehicle in stations and built-up areas at speeds up to 32km/h. Capacity is for 56 seated passengers.

Mr Tim Burleigh, head of external relations at Eversholt Rail, one of the seven members of the consortium, says the design and performance characteristics of the VLR make it an ideal and sustainable option for reopenings proposed through the British government’s Restoring Your Railway programme.

He says the design is highly cost effective and will help in the development of business cases for line reopenings in an increasingly challenging economic environment.