Next stop: UK's first tram battery charge station

Swiss firm Furrer+Frey's wireless station designed to develop Coventry very light rail system 
Air Quality & Weather Systems / May 28, 2021
By Ben Spencer
Furrer+Frey very light rail battery charge system Dudley Covenry UK
Furrer says its software means the charger can support new light trams and buses (image credit: John Zammit)

Swiss firm Furrer+Frey has installed a battery charge station for trams in the UK Midlands.

Located at the company's testing centre in Dudley, England, it is designed to top up very light rail (VLR) vehicles - which are more like trams than trains - wirelessly at scheduled three-minute stops. 

The Swiss firm says its all-in-one OpBird charger is already used for electric buses in Spain and the Netherlands, but new software developed by its UK arm means the charger can support new light trams too. 

The charge station is part of a multi-million-pound project to develop Coventry’s VLR system with the aim of bringing the benefits of a tram at a fraction of the cost.

A prototype Coventry VLR vehicle has been developed and will shortly undergo testing using the charger and tracks at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) in Dudley.

The VLRNIC is expected to facilitate the development of a supply chain to develop integrated VLR systems, creating manufacturing jobs in the Black Country and West Midlands.

Balvinder Heran, deputy chief executive at Dudley Council, says: “We will be the first area in the UK to trial this ultra-rapid charge station and it’s one example of our ambition to develop cutting edge innovations which in turn will encourage investors to Dudley, create jobs and build strong career opportunities across Dudley.”

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