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New plans for multimillion-pound rail innovation hub

New plans for multimillion-pound rail innovation hub



CGI of plans to build a new £29m very light rail innovation centre in Dudley

Plans to create a multimillion-pound innovation hub which will lead the development of very light rail technology have been submitted.

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, working in partnership with Warwick Manufacturing Group, has lodged the new plans to create a £29 million very light rail innovation centre.

The proposals include a pedestrian foot bridge which links the building to Tipton Road, the future Midland Metro line and car parking.

If given the green light, the council said the innovation centre would be at the heart of revolutionising very light rail technology and see Dudley leading the way globally.

When completed, the new building will include meeting rooms, laboratories, teaching facilities, exhibition and conference space, a large engineering workshop and 1.2-mile twin test tracks along disused railway lines which will include test platforms.

Research at the hub will investigate ways to reduce the weight and cost of rail cars and track, enabling the creation of lower-cost connections between suburban and rural areas and providing a cheaper alternative to heavy rail and traditional ‘Metro’ urban transport systems.

Coun Ian Kettle, cabinet member for planning and economic development, said: “This is one of the most exciting regeneration projects to take place in Dudley.

“If given the go ahead, the innovation hub will put Dudley at the forefront of the world’s development of very light rail technology.

“We will be able to market this as a product worldwide and significantly boost our opportunities to strengthen and grow our local economy.”

The planning application is expected to be determined in the spring.

A separate planning application for the test track was submitted to the council’s planning department at the end of October and is waiting to be determined.

The council was recently awarded £18 million by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership towards the cost of the project.

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