Press Release

Shadow Transport Minister Sam Tarry highlights “revolutionary” role of Very Light Rail in improving connectivity

From L to R: Nick Mallinson, CEO of Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation; Sam Tarry MP, Shadow Transport Minister

17 November 2021

  • Shadow Transport Minister Sam Tarry MP has backed Very Light Rail as ‘revolutionary’ to providing clean, affordable transport and improving connectivity in cities across the UK 
  • Tarry spoke while visiting the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre in Dudley – a new centre to develop the innovative new technology, overseen by the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO)
  • The visit was organised by the Railway Industry Association, which represents the UK rail supply community.

Labour’s Shadow Transport Minister Sam Tarry has backed the role Very Light Rail (VLR) can play in improving connectivity across city regions, after a visit to Dudley, where he toured the VLR National Innovation Centre, currently being developed by BCIMO. 
The VLR National Innovation Centre will be instrumental in developing the infrastructure for a network of very light rail systems - in effect a tram-style network that is cheaper to manufacture and easier to operate than traditional rail systems. 
VLR systems provide lightweight and self-propelled, battery-powered trams that run on a lightweight track which is laid closer to the surface than conventional tram track, significantly reducing the infrastructure and maintenance costs when compared to traditional tram systems.
The visit was part of the Railway Industry Association’s Rail Fellowship Programme, which gives MPs the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of the railway sector during visits to suppliers. 
Sam Tarry, Shadow Transport Minister said: “It was a pleasure to visit the BCIMO’s Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre today, and see the work they are doing to develop this new, exciting technology.
“Very Light Rail could be revolutionary in changing the way cities improve connectivity, providing a cost-effective form of public transport to people across the UK. The site being developed by BCIMO is Dudley will provide a centre for the industry to develop the technology even further.
“Thanks to BCIMO and the Railway Industry Association for showcasing the valuable work being undertaken at the site through the Rail Fellowship Programme visit today.”
Max Sugarman, Public Affairs & PR Director and RIA Midlands and Eastern Lead at the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said:
“Very Light Rail can change the way we travel, providing a low-cost, environmentally friendly form of transport. And RIA members, like BCIMO, will be crucial to making VLR a success in the future. So it was great to show the Shadow Light Rail Minister around BCIMO’s site in Dudley, and to highlight the valuable work of the rail supply chain in propelling this technology forward.”
Nick Mallinson, CEO of Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO), said: “It was a pleasure to host Sam Tarry at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre site and explain the benefits that very light rail technology will deliver to both urban tram systems and rural branch lines. 
“Very Light Rail can deliver major reductions in construction costs and cut the time needed to implement schemes, as well as providing manufacturing opportunities for UK companies to supply the UK and overseas markets.  His interest in our work was very encouraging.”

Notes to Editors


  1.  About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has 300+ companies in membership in a sector that contributes £43 billion in economic growth and £14 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 710,000 people. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK; for every £1 spent in rail, £2.50 is generated in the wider economy. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number).

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