Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC)
The VLRNIC for Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group), will provide a world class research, development and educational centre focused on the creation of innovative very light rail vehicles, infrastructure and skilled personnel for the next generation of public transport solutions. We completed a feasibility study for the project in December 2014.
Facilities will include a triple-height engineering hall, research laboratories, conference and seminar rooms and offices for 45 people, alongside public exhibition spaces, a cafe and an auditorium.
The site is a dramatic one: a deep cutting at the foot of Castle Hill in Dudley, with the castle-topped hill forming a wooded backdrop. Castle Hill is also the site of Dudley Zoo, famous for its progressive 1930s buildings, which itself is in the process of regeneration. The rich public transport history of the site makes it an ideal setting for the VLRNIC. Brownfield land for many years and now overgrown, the site was occupied 100 years ago by the former Dudley Station, Goods Depot and Tramway Depot - key infrastructure during the industrial heyday of the Black Country.
The potential for Very Light Rail includes re-establishing the rail routes shut down in the Beeching era of the early 1960s: the Black Country would be the first section of network to be constructed with the VLRNIC forming the focus for the skills and knowledge for rolling out a national programme.