Cirencester/Kemble Very Light Rail (VLR): Update February 2023

Picture Credit – Transport Design International

It’s been some time since we’ve provided a progress report on the Cirencester/Kemble Very Light Rail Link, the reason being that we were awaiting the results of a review looking at alternative ways to link the station at Kemble to Cirencester, which was being carried out for Gloucestershire County Council.

This has now been received and whilst it was principally focused on short term bus services, it has provided other useful information including a customer research survey carried out at Kemble Station and online in conjunction with the Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership.

Very Light Rail (VLR) systems have been given added impetus with the ongoing climate emergency and the need to move to greener and more sustainable forms of transport and earlier this year the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC) was completed on the site of the former British Rail station at Dudley in the Black Country. This Centre will provide full scale facilities to help “shape and accelerate the development of lower-cost and more environmentally friendly solutions across the whole of the rail industry” according to Neil Fulton the CEO of the Black Country Innovation & Manufacturing Organisation.  

The VLRNIC is currently developing and testing the VLR system for Coventry City.  Such systems are designed to be much cheaper and easier to install than conventional ‘light rail’ tram systems and it is hoped that this new, UK-developed, transport system will be used to strengthen public transport connections in rural locations. The Cirencester scheme itself is at the forefront of pioneering VLR use in a rural location.

Picture Credit – VLRNIC

The Coventry City vehicle shown above operates giving zero emissions and creates no particulates unlike buses and other electric vehicles running on rubber tyres. The initial carbon footprint of construction amortised over the long life of the VLR, means it is one of the greenest forms of public transport available today.

The Cirencester/Kemble proposal would also include a cycle track and footpath alongside the VLR to provide alternative active travel to and from the town.

We are now applying for the remainder of the money needed to complete the second phase of the feasibility study which itself is well under way, aiming to link in with both the Cirencester Neighbourhood Development Plan and Town Centre Master Plan so we can see how these schemes all fit together.

Going forward from there will require substantial capital investment and we’re contacting long term investors (such as pension funds) to find out what might be available and at what cost, together with the type of ‘not for dividend’ organisations they prefer to work with.

If you care about the environment and wish to support this type of project, please contact your local County & District Councillors and email us using the link  Supporters@Cirentrain.org.uk .

Look out for further updates in the coming year.   www.cirentrain.org.uk     Richard Gunner   

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1 comment on “Cirencester/Kemble Very Light Rail (VLR): Update February 2023

  1. This is surely a project that deserves all our support.

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