TRB Lightweight Structures contributes to the design of the composite body of the passenger train demonstrator

Revolutionary VLR vehicle. Photo credit: Revolution VLR

TRB Lightweight Structures (TRB, Huntingdon, UK) announces that it has joined the team behind the Revolution VLR (Very Light Rail), a passenger vehicle designed to simplify the extension of existing rail networks and enable the reopening of historic lines. TRB worked closely with consortium leader Transport Design International (TDI) (Stratford-upon-Avon, UK) on the design of the composite bodywork for the demonstration vehicle, manufacturing the one-piece modular structural panels that form the walls interior and exterior.

The design goals of the Revolution VLR were to design a significantly lighter vehicle with reduced energy consumption, while meeting stringent rail industry safety standards and government decarbonization targets. To achieve these goals, TRB has developed modular panels composed of molded carbon fiber laminates with a recycled foam core. TRB notes that its expertise in tooling and material processing ensured a lightweight, high-quality solution that met the design specifications without compromising structural strength.

The project also took advantage of a polyfurfuryl alcohol (PFA) bioresin, a sustainable alternative to phenolic resins derived from a by-product of sugar cane refining. Combined with a host of other innovative technologies, this has resulted in a modular construction that is 40% lighter than traditional heavy rail vehicles of similar capacity. This means that the single-car vehicle can operate on existing reinstated lines or on new routes using lighter track infrastructure.

“Our lightweight structural modular panels not only contributed substantially to a 16 tonne reduction in overall weight, but were also sustainably sourced,” notes Lyndon Newman, chief engineer at TRB Lightweight Structures. “This will contribute significantly to the government’s decarbonisation commitments in transport.”

“The TRB team worked hard to meet all the technical requirements of the project, producing lightweight, modular body panels that met strict tolerances for the Revolution VLR demonstrator,” adds Paul Salkeld, design director at Transport. International design. “This not only allows for the construction of a lighter vehicle, but also helps with the replacement of parts for general maintenance needs, which is a key factor in the longevity of the vehicle, given a lifespan of 30 to 40 years old.”

Other members of the Revolution VLR consortium include RSSB, Eversholt Rail, WMG of the University of Warwick, Cummins, RDM Group and Transcal.

Jose P. Rogers