First track laid for Very Light Rail in Dudley

New pictures show the first sections of track laid as part of the Very Light Rail development in Dudley.

The track which has been laid in a disused tunnel which runs between Castle Gate and Cinder Bank
The track which has been laid in a disused tunnel which runs between Castle Gate and Cinder Bank

The images show track on the ground in a currently disused tunnel which runs between Castle Gate and Cinder Bank.

The line, which is being laid along a disused rail track, will be two kilometres long when complete and be used as a test track for the VLR. A test passenger platform will be at Cinder Bank at the end of the track.

Work is already well under way to construct the VLR National Innovation Centre at the old Dudley train station in Castle Hill. The centre will include an engineering hall, research laboratories, conference and seminar rooms and offices for 45 people. There will also be public areas, including exhibition spaces and an auditorium.

The track which has been laid in a disused tunnel which runs between Castle Gate and Cinder Bank
The track which has been laid in a disused tunnel which runs between Castle Gate and Cinder Bank

The whole project is expected to be complete in early 2022.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said: "It is fantastic to see this ground-breaking project moving forward at pace.

"Seeing the first sections of track laid are a real symbol of the positive developments on the way in our borough.

"This facility and the VLR test track will place Dudley at the forefront nationally of game-changing works in the rail industry. They will benefit the economy as well as the environment.

"We are forging an exciting and bright future for Dudley town centre, with a billion pounds worth of regeneration works including this and the Metro coming very soon. It’s exciting times."

An initial layer of sand before the ballast is applied

Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: "It gives me great pride to see the first sections of track laid down, following on from the excellent progress being made in building the innovation centre.

"This project will help to create jobs and put Dudley on the national map once again for innovation, technology and manufacturing."

The recently formed Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO) will oversee the launch and operation of the centre.

Nick Mallinson, chief executive officer of the BCIMO, added: "I am looking forward to the test track coming into use in February 2021, when we will commence testing of the Coventry VLR shuttle vehicle."

Construction work is being undertaken by Clegg Construction.

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