Dudley Council in the UK has submitted a planning application to develop a new very-light rail innovation centre, in partnership with Warwick Manufacturing Group.

If approved, the centre is expected to explore and identify new ways to reduce the weight and cost of railcars and track structures, as well as develop low-cost connections between suburban and rural areas.

Furthermore, the hub will also research better ways of providing a cost-effective alternative to heavy rail and traditional rapid transit transport systems throughout the city.

The proposed hub is set to include a new building with meeting rooms, laboratories, teaching facilities, an exhibition and conference space and a large engineering workshop.

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

The council also plans to construct 2km-long twin test tracks featuring test platforms, as well as a pedestrian foot bridge that will link the innovation hub to Tipton Road, the future Metro line and car parking.

A separate planning application for the test track was previously submitted to the council’s planning department in October last year.

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Cabinet member for planning and economic development councillor Ian Kettle said: “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.”

This part of the project is estimated to cost nearly £25m.

Dudley Council has already received £18m from the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership for the initiative, while a funding bid for the remaining £7m has been submitted to the government.

The planning application is expected to be analysed in the first half of this year.