West Midlands Metro, Battery Operated Trams, Catenary Free West Midlands

This innovative project to retrofit the existing tram fleet with lithium ion batteries enables passenger services to run sections of the route without the need for Overhead Line Equipment. A first for the UK!

Due to the expansion of the West Midland Metro system, the West Midlands is in a unique position to become a demonstrator project for this emerging technology, paving the way for its use in other new or expanded light rail systems across the country.

The opportunity to omit Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) in key locations is a major benefit to light rail systems reducing installation and maintenance costs. The presence of support poles and suspended overhead cables in streets are visually intrusive and can be particularly undesirable in sensitive and historical areas of city centres.

It can also be the driver for an increased scope of works, for example where the tram passes under low bridges. The need to provide OLE can therefore present major barriers to the implementation of light rail, especially for cities that do not have existing systems. On-board energy storage systems, such as batteries, enable light rail vehicles to operate without overhead wires in key areas of sensitivity.

  • ¬£15 million

    Project value

  • 21

    Light rail vehicles retrofitted

  • 80kWh

    Of on-board energy per vehicle

  • Global Light Rail Award

    Outstanding engineering achievement in association with Westside Extension.

Ridge provided client-side project management for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), who has led the way in the introduction of battery technology to their light rail vehicles operating on the West Midland Metro system.

Ridge has been embedded within the WMCA Metro team since 2010, supporting in the delivery of new extensions to the system, enhancements to the existing lines and depot expansions. This long-standing relationship, detailed accumulated knowledge and experience of Midland Metro operations, places Ridge in a unique position to understand the client, operator and stakeholders necessary to deliver this innovation effectively and efficiently.