January 2012 “The only solution (to the problem of regional railway sustainability) is to be truly radical, and start with the proverbial blank sheet and a set of risks to be controlled. Only then can we leave the dross behind and develop a 21st century regional railway. This is just a taster to provoke fresh thinking. Please understand that it’s not about the technology – somewhere, everything we could possibly want exists and works, safely and reliably.”
ANDREW McNAUGHTON, ‘HS2’ Chief Engineer, in an article titled ‘Regional Railway Revolution’ in Rail Magazine issue 687. The article describes a vision for regional railways using lighter vehicles designed specifically for the purpose, illustrating the Parry Class 139 as an example of ‘Simple trains that use road vehicle technogies and flywheel energy management systems’.
February 2009 “It’s a great little train.”
IAN WALMSLEY, Engineering Development Manager, Porterbrook Leasing Company, following formal acceptance of 139 002, 12th February 2009
January 2008 “Govia-owned company London Midland took over… the Stourbridge Town branch, which will benefit from a regular seven-day-a-week Parry People Mover service. This is particularly good news for [PPML chairman] John Parry, who has been plugging away at this for some years and at last has an opportunity to prove that environmentally sound, economical and lightweight railcars may well be the answer in some circumstances.”
NEIL BUXTON, General Manager, Association of Community Rail Partnerships, writing in ‘Train Times’, Winter 2008
January 2008 “Of course, our contribution to the introduction of lighter trains is the Parry People Mover on the Stourbridge Town branch in the West Midlands.”
KEITH LUDEMAN, Chairman and Chief Executive of Govia, quoted in Modern Railways, February 2008
December 2007 “We are pleased to be working in partnership with Parry People Movers and Porterbrook. Investing in a new fleet is a key feature of the changes we are making to rail services across the London Midland network, of which this is just one part. Over the next two years we will be investing over £240 million in new trains.”
STEVE BANAGHAN, Managing Director, London Midland, 5th December 2007
December 2007 “We are delighted to introduce this innovative new product into our rolling stock fleet. Parry People Movers railcars have the right operating and environmental credentials, and present new opportunities for developing branch line capacity in the UK.”
PAUL FRANCIS, Managing Director, Porterbrook Leasing Company Ltd, 5th December 2007
“Ultimately we want lighter trains, because they are less likely to damage track through daily wear and tear. Lighter trains are more energy-efficient as they need less fuel.”
IAIN COUCHER, Chief Executive, Network Rail, quoted in the Observer, 29th July 2007
June 2007 “There’s been a lot of discussion on the concept of tram-trains in Germany. The big European challenge facing us is urban transport. People want an ‘end-to-end’ journey. Rather than just giving over railway lines to trams, the thinking is to extend heavy rail into the centres of cities and towns. This could prove a much bigger part of the solution. It is, in itself, a 21st-century transport solution – steel wheel on steel rail.
“Too often in the UK, people put forward solutions that mean you’ve got to spend millions of pounds before anything runs. Not with this.
“We get congestion in main stations in our major provincial cities, some caused by shorter-distance trains. Take Leeds, a station that has been expanded in recent years but is still very busy. What if more local services were diverted into City Square? We could start to realise more capacity for main line trains and services. And for the cost of a few hundred yards of tramline.
“It is good for existing passengers, because they won’t have to change any more, and is inviting to new passengers. It is focused much more on the end-user.”
ANDREW McNAUGHTON, Chief Engineer, Network Rail, quoted in RAIL, 6th June 2007
December 2006 “Some trends [in the next 25 years] are already clear: … the drift of people towards cities will continue; … energy will be more expensive, so transport systems will need to reduce consumption …
“Achieving reduced journey time and lower energy requirements might seem to be conflicting requirements. Not so. The key is to make trains much lighter than today. In that way, journey time can be reduced through improved acceleration and braking, whilst using less energy. … We need to think how to transfer crash resistance from every passenger vehicle on to the infrastructure. Modern train protection technology controls train collision risk. … We can reduce bogie and suspension weight by improving the track. Higher track quality permits lower train weight, leading to less energy use and reduced journey time – and less wear.”
Prof. ANDREW McNAUGHTON, Chief Engineer, Network Rail, writing in Rail Professional, January 2007
November 2006 “What we have to do is initiate a virtuous circle, in which reduced weight of vehicles means a reduced fatigue load on the track, which means reduced maintenance and a superior quality ride which will allow further reduction in the weight of trains.
“Rather than seeding to mitigate in some small way the effect of collisions with heavy, collision-resistant trains, we should be seeking to prevent the collisions in the first place.
“The urban railway would support a rather different animal from the Class 375. We would not have 15 tonne axleloads, but 5 tonnes – the vehicle would be more like a tram.
“I have outlined here a … low-maintenance, energy efficient railway, delivered at an affordable price to the taxpayer.”
PROFESSOR ANDREW McNAUGHTON, Chief Engineer, Network Rail – address to Railway Study Association reproduced in Modern Railways, December 2006
November 2006 “Winner – Can Do,Will Do: Neil Barnatt, Head of Acceptance, Engineering
“Neil’s determination to drive forward the trialling of the innovative Parry People Mover – a light railcar used to provide cheap public transport on the Stourbridge branch in the West Midlands – has been a real credibility boost to Network Rail.
“Neil said, ‘Failure would have led to accusations that Network Rail was stifling innovation, while success could identify a possible route to future cost savings on the branch line network.’
“His work has enabled a new licensed operator [Pre Metro Operations Ltd] to enter the national network, and Network Rail is seen as identifying pragmatic but safe ways in which innovation can be used. He has also helped unlock the potential of the use of super-lightweight rail vehicles on the network that could yield substantial savings in the years ahead.”
ASPECTS (Network Rail’s staff magazine), November 2006
October 2006 “[Lightweight rail] is a brilliant invention and there are undoubtably a significant number of lightly used lines in Britain that could benefit from it. The argument is similar to being on the roads. Why run a 44 tonne truck when you only need to run a 10 tonne truck?”
CHRIS GREEN, Chairman, Railway Forum, quoted in Rail Professional, October 2006
September 2006 “If you use old, heavy trains for rural routes, it smashes the routes to bits. Let’s find a train that meets [passengers’] needs and meets our need of having nil impact on the infrastructure.”
IAIN COUCHER, Deputy Chief Executive, Network Rail, quoted in the Financial Times, 19th September 2006
June 2006 “Working with stakeholders thoughout the industry we will be reviewing the way standards drive costs on community rail lines and whether there are any opportunities to reduce the subsequent costs. A number of options are being considered including […] use of lighter vehicles. As this will mean mixing heavy and light vehicles on the network, we will be undertaking work to understand how this approach can be managed and to understand the changed risk profile.”
“Two key issues that will drive rolling stock design in the future are the expectation of reduced journey times and a requirement to become more energy efficient. On the surface these are conflicting requirements, but they are actually achievable if we can make trains lighter. Lighter trains can deliver improved acceleration and braking, reducing journey times between stations and using less energy.”
NETWORK RAIL, Initial Strategic Business Plan for Control Period 4 (2009-2014), June 2006
April 2006 “The Parry People Mover is the technical breakthrough that we have been waiting for. It offers Community Railways the chance to dramatically reduce both their train and infrastructure costs on the most lightly used lines. We ignore this opportunity at our peril.”
CHRIS GREEN, Chairman, Railway Forum, after visiting Stourbridge in April 2006
March 2006 “The conference attracted over 60 delegates from leading rail organisations including Network Rail, Arriva and Defra. A note of optimism was set for the day by Chris Green, board member of Network Rail, speaking as chairman of the Railway Forum.
“Radical solutions to help bring down costs are key to the development of successful Community Railways, said Chris. One way of doing this could be through the setting of new ‘flexible’ Community Rail engineering standards for branch lines. Measures could include the setting of more appropriate standards for signalling, level crossings and fencing. Chris lobbied the idea of thinking ‘tram standards’, with the payoff for running trains at a maximum speed of 50mph being a more flexible operation, with fewer signals and level crossings.”
TRAIN TIMES (magazine of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships), reporting on the ACoRP conference on the Community Rail Development Strategy in Huddersfield, 24th March 2006
February 2006 “One vision of affordable local public transport using light railcars is being put to the test – thanks to a common sense approach from Network Rail and industry partners.
“The Class 999 Parry People Mover railcar is used by operator Pre Metro Operations Limited (with the backing of West Midlands PTE Centro and the Department for Transport) to run a Sundays-only shuttle from Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town, which is operated by Central Trains on other days. The full regular service – the first Sunday services since 1915 – started on 8 January.
“Bernard Hulland, commercial schemes sponsor at Network Rail, has coordinated the work to allow the liquid petroleum gas- and flywheel-powered vehicle to run.
“‘The light railcar doesn’t conform to known railway standards,’ he said, ‘so we knew we’d have to think outside the box to get approval, making specific safety cases where necessary and getting derogations from Railway Group Standards, and exemptions from HM Railway Inspectorate.’
“‘Just because we don’t adhere rigidly to systems doesn’t mean we’re compromising on safety: we can use professional judgement, reasoning and informed decisions to find safe solutions,’ he said.
“The operation’s progress will be reviewed during the next 12 months.”
ASPECTS (Network Rail’s staff magazine), “Flexible solution for unique transport experiment”, February 2006
December 2005 “We are supportive of any new transport technology which could address passenger demand and reduce the cost of running the railway. Network Rail has done a lot of work with Parry People Movers, Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) and the Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB) to make this trial possible and we will be watching the results with interest.”
NETWORK RAIL SPOKESPERSON, reacting to the start of PPM passenger services at Stourbridge on 11th December 2005
November 2005 “The PPM performed well and proved quiet, low-emission, reliable, economic and reasonably attractive. Its modern image went a long way to quell the surviving public misconception that the Wensleydale Railway is a heritage line. Getting the legal approvals and the crew and maintainer training were amazingly quick. The PPM certainly does not need mainline (i.e. fearsomely expensive) crew, maintainers or facilities. Acquisition costs are a fraction of those for an Urban LRV (e.g. Sheffield super-tram) even when the cost of electrification is ignored. Yet the PPM delivers much the same benefits.
Speed was limited by our track (which suffers from dipped rail joints) and the two gated level crossings. These are relatively (relatively) inexpensive to correct. For a permanent operation, we would need a more comfortable, two-car, bogie version of the PPM vehicle and Parry’s are designing just such, using the WR as the representative potential customer. The acquisition cost will be between an equivalent bus and a conventional train.”
STEVE DEANE, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING DIRECTOR, WENSLEYDALE plc, reporting to North Yorkshire County Council in November 2005 on the demonstration operation of PPM railcar between Leeming Bar and Northallerton in September
September 2005 “It’s not dependent on very expensive infrastructure – we know it’s a low-cost but decent quality solution which I think will probably have the edge over the bus for quite a number of services.”
Dr PAUL SALVESON, GENERAL MANAGER, ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY RAIL PARTNERSHIPS, speaking about PPM technology on BBC TV Midlands Today, 28th September 2005
July 2005 “On self-contained routes it would be ludicrous to impose the same standards as on the main line. This is one of the key issues for community rail – getting standards which are safe but fit for purpose.”
“We are keen to see ULR [ultra light rail] applied in practice to a ‘working railway’ – clearly Stourbridge Town is the ideal line. We have supported [PPM chairman] John Parry’s pioneering work, and we hope his efforts will bear fruit.”
Dr PAUL SALVESON, GENERAL MANAGER, ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY RAIL PARTNERSHIPS
Quoted in Rail Professional, July 2005
April 2005 “Whether it is Parry People Movers and their use of stored energy [for example] … there’s a lot of good, creative thinking going on about the way to take things forwards while driving down costs”
Dr PAUL SALVESON, GENERAL MANAGER, ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY RAIL PARTNERSHIPS
Quoted by Tony Miles in Modern Railways, May 2005
February 2005 “I am convinced that we will see a fundamental change in power technologies on the railway. I do not believe that electrification is the only way forward. In particular we could be looking to the development of hybrid engines … There are also other ideas such as flywheel power storage that could play a part in the hybrid mix. Hybrids also provide a very versatile solution to Britain’s particular problem where significant parts of the network are not currently electrified, travelling anywhere on the network using the most effective power source.”
ADRIAN LYONS, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE RAILWAY FORUM, giving the Sir Robert Reid Lecture 2005, 24th February 2005
November 2004 “Innovative systems using light rail vehicles require up-front investment, but work is under way with Centro and Pre Metro Operations with the aim of an extended trial of the Parry People Mover on the Stourbridge Town branch.”
STRATEGIC RAIL AUTHORITY, COMMUNITY RAIL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
See also our Press Release responding to the Strategy.
“It is blindingly obvious that if we were starting again with the Stourbridge Town Car Service it would NOT be a diesel train operation. I remain, as I have said to you and to others, that this is a light rail operation ideally suited to the sort of activity that you are seeking to pursue. The great tragedy is that our industry structures and the economics of our business do not enable any of us to move as fast as you would wish.”
“Stourbridge Town branch has got to be the first candidate for conversion to a light rail operation, ideally operated by a Parry People Mover.”
NICK BROWN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, CENTRAL TRAINS LIMITED, BIRMINGHAM
January 2003 ”I feel that the important feature at this point is that Parry and Mowlem are working together to bring some schemes to fruition. Our business will continue to work closely with you in the infrastructure elements of these schemes”.
MIKE PIPE, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING, MOWLEM INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES, 30 January 2003
January 2003 ”Mowlem are very pleased to be associated with Parry People Movers and Brush Traction, working in close collaboration to fulfil the potential of the concept which you have developed”.
”I confirm that Brush Traction is very interested in carrying out some of the manufacturing work involved in building your vehicles, and to that end we would be happy to observe your vehicle on the GCR and talk to you further as to the best way forward”.
JMG BIDEWELL, GENERAL MANAGER, BRUSH TRACTION, 2 January 2003
December 2002 ”Railways and other transport systems (approval of works, plant and equipment) Regulations 1994 Parry People Mover car number 12.”I am pleased to inform you that further to Mr Cooksey’s letter of the 12th January 1999 and following a number of inspections by HM Railway Inspectorate, tramcar number 12 is approved for public use”. MYLES SIBLEY, HM ASSISTANT CHIEF INSPECTOR OF RAILWAYS, 24 December 2002
|January 2010||“My sons Dominic (aged 9) and Thomas (aged 11) are rail enthusiasts – Thomas is particularly interested and has been nagging me for months to ride on the shortest shuttle service in the country. Anyway… on the 6th of Jan 2010 at about 6.30pm the three of us went for a ride on the Class 139 shuttle running from Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town.
“I know this is a real working rail resource and would like to thank your staff for being so kind to my boys. The lady guard was very knowledgeable about the Class 139 and its clever drive system. The driver allowed my sons to stand right by the ‘cockpit’ and see the operation of the train.
“Both boys really enjoyed this and the guard even took a photograph for us! It was only £1.80 for the three of us and your staff really made it fun and interesting. Thomas said it was his best Wednesday night ever! Thank you again for making his night…
From an e-mail received by London Midland on 7th January 2010
|October 2009||“We enjoyed our return trip over the branch and thought the vehicle most pleasant to ride in. For a small vehicle, the climbing ability on the return journey from the Town to Junction was impressive, and it really was the highlight of our day to sample this novel new technology in rail travel.”
ADRIAN WILLATS in e-mail received by PPM on 11th October 2009
|July 2009||“It gave me a great deal of pleasure to see your PPM coming into the station. It embodies all that is good with a design of a transport vehicle: it is aesthetically pleasing, functional and energy efficient. [My wife] and I both remember when you had an experimental unit running in the grounds of the Hall of Memory [in Birmingham]. I also remember attending a community type meeting where an important officer of WMPTE [West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive] laughed and made some sarcastic remark to my statement that this vehicle could easily revolutionise railway design and bring precious jobs into the area.”
KEN BROOKES in e-mail received by PPM on 15th July 2009
|June 2009||“… This innovative, environmentally-friendly, futuristic mode of public transport [Class 139 railcars] will not only run at more frequent intervals than its diesel predecessor, it will allow far easier flat-level entry for wheelchair access and parents with baby buggies and be far kinder to the environment. The people behind the development of the Parry People Mover, and now the operational staff who are going to run it, should be justifiably proud of their achievement to bring this innovative operation to Stourbridge. As a local resident I am certainly proud to use it. Why not extend it down the High Street to make our town something special? … Public transport is really moving forward in our area.”
PHIL TONKS, in a letter to the Stourbridge News, 18th June 2009
|June 2009||“It’s good, this little train. Isn’t it, boys?”
A MOTHER travelling with children on the Stourbridge Town branch, 1st June 2009
“I live in close proximity to the line that runs between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town and during the week am plagued with the noise made by the rail carriage that generally uses that line. However, Sundays are a totally different situation. Your ‘People Mover’ slips virtually silently up and down the line and almost goes unnoticed. Apart from the benefits to ourselves and other residents of reduced noise, I would imagine that there is also a significant reduction in the amount of fumes and other gases that pollute the environment.”
From a letter received by PPM on 24th August 2006
“Yesterday my wife and I took a ride on your vehicle running between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town and were most impressed with the vehicle and the efficient service provided. May I add that all the operating staff were extremely pleasant, helpful, informative and well presented.”
From an e-mail received by PPM on 3rd July 2006
|June 2006||“That’s a definite plus. That’s lovely!”
A PRAM-PUSHING MOTHER’s reaction to PPM 50 railcar’s level access from the platform at Stourbridge Junction, 25th June 2006
“My daughter and myself had an enjoyable few trips on the Stourbridge service on Sunday 18th June. Could you pass on my thanks to your excellent crew, especially your driver who spent at least one trip explaining to my daughter how the railcar operated? I found the railcar very interesting and would like to learn more. Thanks for an enjoyable time and I look forward to the next generation of PPMs.”
From an e-mail received by PPM on 19th June 2006
|May 2006||“I think it’s a brilliant idea.”
“I really like it!”
PASSENGERS ON THE STOURBRIDGE TOWN BRANCH, 7th May 2006
“Dear Train Drivers, Thank you for being so nice to us. We enjoyed the train rides a lot. Hope you have a nice day and a wonderful 2006 (well, all the other other years too). We have enclosed some Kit Kats for you.”
TWO YOUNG PASSENGERS ON THE STOURBRIDGE SERVICE show their appreciation, 8th January 2006
“Having learnt that there was going to be a demonstration run of a special train [on the Wensleydale Railway] on 12th September, on that day we went on the first scheduled passenger service from Leyburn to Leeming Bar. There, by invitation, we boarded a Parry People Mover (PPM) and rode forward to Northallerton terminating at a specially constructed short platform at Springwell Lane.
“The PPM is an innovative light railcar, about the length of a 14-seater mini bus and powered by a propane engine via a flywheel. The vehicle has a half width driving cab at front and back, and good forward visibility for passengers. The entry door is alongside the driver and the floor is level with the platform for easy access. With bench seating down each side there is ample room for wheelchairs …
“By design, the PPM is a light railcar, very economical in performance, easy to use and should be ideal for small numbers of passengers. It looked a very smart, 21st Century design. The destination blind front and rear was inspirational: “LEEMING BAR – NORTHALLERTON RAIL SHUTTLE”. Could be the shape of things to come.”
S G PICKFORD, writing in Relay (newsletter of the Wensleydale Railway Association), Autumn 2005
|September 2005||“I think it’s quite an accomplished vehicle and has got a lot of future to it. It was comfortable and went a lot faster than I thought it would.”
MICHAEL KENT, PPM traveller on the Wensleydale Railway, quoted in the Darlington & Stockton Times, 16th September 2005
|May 2005||“Very impressive.”
“Clean, airy, efficient – would be a great asset to local commuting.”
“Very quiet and eco-friendly.”
“Accessible, light and airy, comfortable.”
“Very clean and reliable mode of transportation.”
“Excellent solution to transport problems.”
“Quiet and efficient.”
“An excellent idea.”
A SELECTION OF PASSENGER COMMENTS MADE AT THE COMMUNITY RAIL OPEN DAY ON THE CHASEWATER RAILWAY, 14th May 2005
|May 2005||“The People Mover was very impressive. It was very smooth and quiet and easily coped with large numbers of people getting on and off.”
DR PAUL COLLINS, CHAIRMAN & CHIEF EXECUTIVE. STOURBRIDGE RADIO GROUP, 3rd May 2005 – after experiencing PPM transport at the Chasewater Railway
“We’re hoping to ride on it again!”
Appreciative words on a cold day from fortunate passengers able to travel in PPM comfort through a wintry Chasewater Country Park.
|June 2003||“That was cool”
“That was wicked”
Loughborough Grammar School Boys, (after leaving Parry People Mover at Quorn Station
|May 2003||“In September 2001 the Action for a Better Charnwood group had a day of displays and presentations on all kinds of transport, for European No Car Day. John Parry spoke on the development of his vehicles using the fly wheel principle. We heard this could be used to ease traffic problems in and around Loughborough.”
“Naturally, I took the opportunity to be on one of the first journeys using a PPM ‘tram’ at Great Central Railway, on Tuesday last. An eight passenger vehicle was demonstrated at Abbey Park about ten years ago. This one could take 50 and provided easy access for buggys and wheelchairs. Such a vehicle would provide transport that is clean, safe and less polluting than road traffic. We have engineering skills, and Brush could make the Parry People Mover. Another local bonus.”
“There is no ‘quick fix’ for our traffic problems but this device scores on a number of points. I lived in London for some years. Like most people I walked to reach my nearest tube station. Here, people could be dropped at their local station, by bus or car, to take a PPM into town rather than clog up the roads with cars, which then have to be parked.”
” Is this a British invention which is going to be developed abroad? If it is, it would not be the first time we have let an opportunity slip.”
|April 2003||“First of all, many thanks for the invitation to come and have a ride on Car 12 at the SVR last week. It was good to see the machine in operation, and also to have the opportunity to look at the engine and transmission equipment. I was most impressed, in particular by the way in which the vehicle could be braked to a standstill with all that inertia being transmitted back to the flywheel.”
THE REVD MICHAEL KNEEN, TEAM VICAR, THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, BRIDGNORTH TEAM MINISTRY
Political and Government Comment
|February 2012||The US Department of Energy (DOE) some time ago made a decision to make a major review of its own stance influencing the development of hybrid vehicles following its previous stance of disregarding the use of flywheels. The international study report, commissioned from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, was published in December 2011. Parry People Movers were considered in this report and extracts follow. The complete report can be downloaded here.
The conclusions of this study are significant for the business planning of the Parry Rail companies.
Direct quote follows – (PPML underlining)
Other summary conclusions:-
1. The most extensive experience in heavy-duty vehicles is in Europe by L-3 Communications Magnet Motor Gmbh in Germany and Parry People Movers Ltd in the UK. Of the 13 systems reviewed, based in Germany, Netherlands, the UK, Canada, Mexico and the US, the majority are under development or pre-commercial. Safety issues have been satisfactorily addressed in crash test simulations and the design parameters for containment in the event of failure understood. The steel flywheels operate well below the safety limits.
2. While supercapacitors, in conjunction with batteries, are seen as providing a high peak power when necessary, they will require additional power electronics increasing the cost of vehicles. Flywheel systems have more available energy and provide a far higher pulse power for acceleration.
3. In specific assessment of the ‘Parry’ technology the report concludes:-
(compared with electrical storage systems)…..
“Engines can be downsized more when the high power from a flywheel is available, leading to further improvements in fuel economy. For instance, Parry People Movers downsized the ICE for railcar propulsion from 14 to 2.3 liters and added regenerative braking by using a low speed, steel flywheel. As a result, fuel economy was increased seven to eight times that of the former diesel railcar, while reducing CO2 emissions by over threefold! The 2.3 liter ICE with flywheel assist drives the 10 ton railcar with such good acceleration that passenger service has increased 50%”.
The DOE report concludes and recommends that:-
“… European developments demonstrate the potential of flywheels for both heavy – and light duty hybrid vehicles”.
” A study should be undertaken to determine the level of delivered energy to maximise system performance”.
” (there should be established…) a flywheel standard certification process and perhaps standardised testing procedures for ground vehicles following the approach taken by NASA and the Air Force in developing a standard for flywheel applications in space”.
“An Assessment of Flywheel High Power Energy Storage Technology for Hybrid Vehicles December 2011”. Author Dr James Hansen.
|July 2010||“… There are other areas that I hope Her Majesty’s Government will look at. In the West Midlands, for example, close to my former constituency of West Bromwich is a company called Parry People Movers, which operates about 700 or 800 yards of line between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge [Note: Lord Snape somewhat underestimates the length of the Stourbridge Town branch]. It has achieved a 99 per cent reliability rate on that stretch of line. Why – this is not a political point; it happens under all Governments – do we find it so difficult to innovate within the railway industry? Why are we so hidebound and traditional as to insist on rolling stock being made to the highest possible standard and with the tracks being maintained as though Pendolino trains will run at 125 miles per hour throughout the network? Why cannot we have a cheap and cheerful branch line perhaps run by Parry People Movers? I hasten to add that I have no direct connection with the business. Some years ago, John Parry, the chairman, asked whether I would be interested in joining his board. At that time, I was working for a rather bigger organisation called National Express, so, probably to his relief, I had to turn him down. This is an area in which genuine savings could be made. We could operate a cheap, or cheaper, railway system on some of our threatened branch lines. Indeed, we should consider reopening some of them, but that cannot happen at present because of the costs of operating the current railway system. I hope that the Government will look not at slashing front-line services or cutting railway infrastructure but on making the present system work more cheaply and efficiently. I hope in the 10 minutes or so available to me that I have been able to give the Minister some food for thought and that the Government will see that we depend on the railway industry economically as we do on other forms of transport. …”
LORD SNAPE OF WEDNESBURY
“… I have always been interested in the enabling role that transport plays, and the fact that many good policy interventions made by government and local authorities failed to work because nobody properly thought through the transport dimension. I have never made a pretence of having any great technical expertise on transport but I have a great admiration for those who do. The UK transport industry is a major employer throughout the country. In the past 20 years huge structural changes in the industry mean that transport is much less the preserve of the public service than it used to be and there is huge variation in the size of the organisations concerned, from large multinationals to small specialist companies – indeed, Parry People Movers. …”
Contributions to House of Lords debate on the case for safe and sustainable transport and its role in generating future economic growth and prosperity, 5th July 2010
|April 2010||“I can’t think of a better venue than a [Parry People Movers] light railcar that’s helping us travel towards a green economy and the site of our soon-to-be-built £7m transport interchange. … Having Lord Adonis here is a great endorsement for John Parry, whose technology is helping us to build an economy fit for the future.”
LYNDA WALTHO, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR STOURBRIDGE
“This [the Stourbridge Town branch rail service] is absolutely fantastic and the type of project that we want to see more of in this country. We are planning for a hi-tech low-carbon economy and the West Midlands is a vital part of that. When the high speed rail link to London is finished, Birmingham will be just 50 minutes from the capital. And combine the new rail link with a new Metro extension in the West Midlands and brilliant tram-style links link this in Stourbridge and you can really see a picture of how the future will be. … It’s technology like the Parry People Mover and champions of their local community like Lynda Waltho who will carry this country towards a progressive future.”
Comments made during Lord Adonis’s visit to Stourbridge on 13th April, reported on www.stourbridgenews.co.uk and www.vote.lyndawaltho.org.uk, 15th April 2010
|April 2010||“Lots of good transport news from the front. In Stourbridge, the innovative ‘Parry People Mover’ is providing a brilliant tram-style service on the branch line from Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town – a much more frequent service than when it was a conventional train, and far more energy efficient. Labour candidate Lynda Waltho persuaded my predecessor to fund the scheme, and John Parry, the entrepreneur behind it, is an evangelist for its potential to expand rail access, economically, in other towns and cities.”
LORD ANDREW ADONIS, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT, recording his visit to Stourbridge during his ‘Great Rail Journey’ on 13th April 2010
|February 2010||“I can see the possibilities in a number of situations where the track beds of old railways still exist. It could be used in Bath along the old track instead of buses which use the same congested road space as cars. There are also the two tunnels track, the Radstock to Frome track, and maybe a branch line to Swindon. LPG fuel makes it really cheap to run and the fuel is carried in a large tank within the vehicle. The car is light weight and the flywheel which stores up energy is what makes this such an innovative solution. I believe this could be a useful way to make a link between Bristol and Radstock along the old railway track which still exists most of the way.”
GAIL COLESHILL, prospective Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for North East Somerset, after visiting Stourbridge on 10th February 2010
|December 2009||“It’s a great achievement. It doesn’t seem two minutes, let alone 200,000 passengers, since we were on the railway for the inaugural journey of the Parry People Mover. Two-hundred thousand is a landmark that the manufacturers and operators of this local, innovative train can be proud of. Its official title might well be the Class 139 LPG-powered light rail vehicle but to everyone local to this area it is the Parry People Mover and I‘m sure we’ll see more and more around the country, and people will recognise Stourbridge as the starting point for state-of-the-art, low-carbon technology that’s leading the way,”
LYNDA WALTHO, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR STOURBRIDGE, presenting commemorative certificates to the 200,000th and 200,001st passengers, 12th December 2009
|November 2009||“In the run-up to Copenhagen, will [the Minister] confirm her Department’s support for low-carbon transport initiatives such as the Parry People Mover, which is a light rail car that runs on the Stourbridge line? It makes an important contribution to the local economy in terms of jobs and green technology. Will she, or the Secretary of State, accept my invitation to come and ride on it?”
LYNDA WALTHO, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR STOURBRIDGE
“I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for her final offer. I fear that the Secretary of State and I are so preoccupied with the international discussions that we are frequently out of the country, but we will of course try very hard to make a new year resolution to accept her invitation. … It makes a real difference when people can see local examples of how to move to low carbon, such as the transit system to which she referred—which has, of course, been supported by the Department for Transport. It is through seeing what happens on the ground that people will learn what it is possible to do to meet our low-carbon aims.”
|July 2009||“My Lords, will the Minister join me in congratulating Parry People Movers on introducing rapid lightweight trains between Stourbridge and Stourbridge Junction which successfully carry lots of people, and much better than the railway to which he has just referred [the Wellington-Stafford line in the 1960s]? Will he look particularly at the list of potential lines which that company has put forward for using this railcar, particularly as regards enthusiast and freight railways?”
LORD BRADSHAW, Liberal Democrat transport spokesman
“My Lords, I am very happy to do so. The application of new ways of running railway services much more economically than has been the case in the past is something to which we should pay a good deal of attention.”
Contributions to the House of Lords debate on expanding access to railways, 20th July 2009
|April 2009||“Why not keep [the Weymouth tramway] and run lightweight trams as a tourist attraction – or even connect it to the station? A Parry People Mover would be ideal, require no catenary and be capable of running on poor track. Surely this is just the thing to brighten up Weymouth in time for the Olympic sailing events there in 2012!”
LORD BERKELEY, writing in the Railway Magazine, May 2009 issue
“It is an absolutely fantastic idea in the best traditions of innovative Black Country engineering and great fun to ride.
|December 2007||“This is great news for Parry People Movers, Stourbridge and the Black Country. We have a great railway history in the town and now we can look forward to the prospect of a great future in light rail.
“The Black Country spirit of enterprise and innovation has come through and I would like to congratulate John Parry and his team for this great stride forward. Let’s hope it’s the start of many more orders to come from around the world once the technology can be seen up and down our line next year.”
LYNDA WALTHO, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR STOURBRIDGE, quoted in the Stourbridge Chronicle, 13th December 2007
|December 2007||“This is excellent news for Stourbridge and the Black Country. We have a great railway history and this has massive potential for the future. It ticks all the boxes.”
LYNDA WALTHO, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR STOURBRIDGE, quoted on www.stourbridgenews.co.uk following the announcement that two PPM 60 railcars had been ordered for the Stourbridge Town branch, 6th December 2007
|June 2007||“It is a Black Country innovation and the right technology for this sort of line; it could make Stourbridge a centre for the next step in the railway industry. People from all over the world have come to see it – it’s brilliant and everything about it is positive.”
LYNDA WALTHO, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR STOURBRIDGE, quoted in the Stourbridge News following the announcement that PPML railcars will run permanently on the local branch line under the new franchise, 22nd June 2007
|June 2007||“Meeting the environmental challenge means innovative thinking such as considering how tram-train lightweight vehicles could be used for some services and provide better links to town and city centres.”
TOM HARRIS MP, PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT, speaking to the Modern Railways ‘Fourth Friday’ Club, 22nd June 2007 (the day after the West Midlands franchise was awarded to Govia with PPM railcars specified for the Stourbridge Town branch)
|May 2007||“We should look at light rail schemes that utilise under-used or disused rail lines. The shortest amount of road running would find favour with me.”
Question and answer session at Rail 2007 conference in Birmingham
“This [PPML lightweight technology] would be ideal for some branch lines.”
STEPHEN HAMMOND MP, Shadow Rail Minister, 17th May 2007
|March 2007||“I recently invited Tom Harris MP, Trains Minister, to come to Stourbridge Junction and see the excellent Parry People Mover and discuss issues around the prospect for a permanent PPM link when the franchise is allocated later this year. I have long been a champion of the PPM and I think the Minister was really impressed with what he saw. Light rail links such as this one enable local transport solutions to be attractive, environmentally-friendly and affordable. I’m really pleased that this innovative light rail car is being produced here in the Black Country and has a proven track record during its trials of 99% reliability and punctuality.”
LYNDA WALTHO MP, Member of Parliament for Stourbridge, report to constituents (distributed with Stourbridge News, 29th March 2007)
|January 2007||“It’s very impressive, it’s very flexible, it’s light on the rail network which is important as far as maintenance costs are concerned. I’m very optimistic that the bidders for the West Midlands franchise are taking the option of light rail very seriously.”
TOM HARRIS MP, PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT, after riding on PPM 50 lightweight railcar at Stourbridge, 22nd January 2007 (quoted in Stourbridge News)
“A key challenge over the coming decades will be to deliver sustainable development. The valuable recent reports by Sir Nicholas Stern into the economics of climate change, and Sir Rod Eddington into the effects of transport on economic growth, reinforce the message that these two issues cannot be considered in isolation. We need to deliver rail’s share of carbon emissions reduction, primarily by making ourselves more energy efficient. Improvements of at least 20% in specific energy consumption are the kind of target we should be aiming for across the network. And, like it or not, pressure to reduce costs won’t go away. Getting the best value for money will remain an important priority for Government. “Technological change is both a major opportunity and a risk. It can help us achieve our aims if we grasp it firmly and plan for the changes it will bring – but the railway isn’t always very good at change, and there is a danger that we will be left behind, somewhere in the second half of the 20th century. “We need trains to be lighter and more efficient because this both reduces energy consumption and reduces track damage. We need track to be maintained to higher standards of precision to allow our light trains to run … “In dense urban areas we need to recognise that the highest capacity will be delivered by optimising the railway for high density traffic … On rural and lightly used regional lines we will need to aim for much lower costs, with longer replacement cycles for infrastructure, no trackside signalling equipment and perhaps ‘tram-train’ style vehicles … “There is considerable pressure to replace Pacers, and it is good to see an active discussion taking place about the need for a lightweight replacement.”
TOM HARRIS MP, PARLIAMENTARY UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT, writing in Modern Railways, January 2007
“I was very interested in the … experimental railcar service at Stourbridge and the environmental benefits this has demonstrated. … I very much welcome innovative approaches to minimising carbon emissions from transport.”
The Rt Hon DAVID MILIBAND MP, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, FOOD & RURAL AFFAIRS, 6th December 2006
|November 2006||“The trial we have helped fund has shown how this new, locally-developed technology is able to provide a frequent, safe and reliable passenger service. When the new rail franchise takes over from Central Trains, we think there is real scope for the heavy rail service on the Stourbridge branch to be replaced by a more frequent seven-day shuttle using [Parry People Movers] lightweight railcars. We are urging the companies now bidding for the West Midlands franchise to make this a part of their plans.”
Cllr KEITH CHAMBERS, Lead Member for Rail, West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority, 24th November 2006
|November 2006||“Perhaps the greatest challenges and crucially the greatest opportunities for the rail industry will come as we move towards a low carbon economy to tackle the effects of climate change. This will increasingly affect how rail, and indeed all forms of transport, operate and do business in the future. And rising to meet this green challenge is what I want to concentrate on in [this speech]. Demand for travel has increased and will continue to do so. It is our job to ensure that that growth does not come at the expense of environmental obligations.
“… It is now time for the rail network to face up to the economics of climate change, set out so compellingly by Sir Nicholas Stern in his Review … Rail has to accept that, in future years, the carbon cost of travel will be far more important than today. The message from Stern is clear. Taking the effect of carbon emissions into account now will lead to substantial savings and underpin growth in the long term …
“Rail needs to be making a positive contribution to our environmental agenda at a national and international level. But it also needs to be a ‘good neighbour’ to the five million people who live within half a mile of the railway and whose sensitivity to environmental concerns will be ever more acute in future …”
“We know that more mass equals more energy consumption. Lighter trains are good for the environment, because they consume less energy. They hammer the track less hard.”
“… Today’s passengers want to know … whether the railway will respond to the challenges of the environment and climate change …”
“Environmental responsibility must drive everything you [the rail industry] do. It should run through the vision for the railway, the funding and finance decisions we make, and in the new focus on integrated and long term planning. That is our shared challenge, our shared obligation and I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead to make it happen.”
The Rt Hon DOUGLAS ALEXANDER MP, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT, speaking to Transport 2000 conference, 14th November 2006
“The Parry People Mover has been working every Sunday between Stourbridge [Town] and Stourbridge Junction with a reliability that would make many passenger franchise operators green with envy … PPMs would be the ideal vehicle for branch lines. Clearly, the Government is fed up with the leasing charges levied by the RoSCos for ‘Pacers’ and the like and, equally clearly, the continuing resistance to change from parts of the railway and safety industries is what is preventing innovations.”
LORD TONY BERKELEY, the Railway Magazine, September 2006
“Climate change does not fit neatly into any one [Government] department. All departments must be departments for climate change – from transport … to energy.”
The Rt Hon DAVID MILIBAND MP, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, quoted in Energy, Resource, Environmental & Sustainable Management magazine, July-August 2006
|July 2006||“There’s a clear need for this technology in locations all over Britain. I have thought for a long time that railway branch lines could be converted to a lighter form of rail to improve services … I can see that there is potential for [PPM-style lightweight railcars] to provide suburban services on quite a few heritage railways too.”
CHRIS GRAYLING MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, during a visit to Stourbridge on 6th July 2006
|June 2006||“Stourbridge Town Branch
“This is the shortest line on the national rail network and does not
currently have a formal community rail partnership in place to support
development. It is recognised that the current operation provides a useful
link between Stourbridge Junction and the Town; however operating costs are
high and it is possible that alternative options for providing a rail-based
service would represent better value for money. The line currently hosts
the innovative ‘Parry People Mover’ light rail vehicle which operates an
experimental Sunday service. Light rail solutions such as this could
represent a way forward for the route.”
DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT, West Midlands Franchise Consultation Document,
|May 2006||“We … need to demonstrate that we are addressing the fundamental challenges ahead for transport. As the population grows, and we become more wealthy, our demand for travel is increasing. Many parts or our road and rail network are already under severe pressure especially at peak times. While we have set out clear plans for future investment, constraints on public expenditure mean we cannot simply build our way out of these problems. And the benefits transport can deliver must also be measured against its impact on the environment; in particular transport will be critical to our long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions.”
PRIME MINISTER The Rt Hon TONY BLAIR MP, in his letter of appointment to Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for Transport, May 2006
|May 2006||“Not only should DfT look again at its costing methods, but would-be
operators should look again at their costs. Is there a cheaper method for
renewing track as some claim? Could cheaper trams be used such as the Parry
People Mover or the Pullman T.P.L. design?”
Chairman’s Chat, Conservative Transport News (the newsletter of the
Conservative Transport Group), May 2006
“I was delighted to visit the Stourbridge branch on Sunday 19 March, and experience the Parry People Mover at first hand. Many congratulations on restoring a Sunday service to a line which hasn’t seen one for almost a century.
“The PPM is an impressive vehicle, which could provide a popular, cost-effective public transport solution in rural areas and conurbations – particularly where it’s possible to reopen freight lines to passenger services.
“The very best of luck to you and your team.”
LORD FAULKNER OF WORCESTER, after experiencing the PPM Light Railcar at Stourbridge on 19th March 2006
|February 2006||“It is a great pleasure to be asked to participate in today’s events; the official launch of the revolutionary railcar service between the Junction and Town stations is yet another proud moment in Stourbridge’s history – more so because the technology, as so often in the past, is a Black County innovation, this time from the Cradley Heath-based Parry People Movers.
“… It’s that Black County spirit and tenacity that has won the day and brought us to this point today: the launch of a new generation of railcars using non-electric technology giving, passengers a new environment-friendly, cost-efficient and flexible service – ideal especially for the shuttle service between the Junction and the Town. …
“Not for the first time in its history, there will be many pairs of eyes watching us here in Stourbridge: railway people, transport experts, local and national government, and environmentalists. Success is crucial not just for the development of this type of non-electric transport but, I believe, also for the development and possibilities for Stourbridge. Not to mention the possibility of manufacturing jobs and engineering right back here in the Black County where we have so much talent and skill. …
“So, to conclude – congratulations with the venture, thank you for the hard work and ingenuity which I am very proud to support and very best wishes for resounding success!”
LYNDA WALTHO MP, Member of Parliament for Stourbridge, speaking at the official launch of the Stourbridge operation on 5th February 2006
“The town has a fine railway history and it gives me great pleasure to help launch Stourbridge into the future with this fine example of environmentally-friendly light rail transport. I hope that the line may be extended at some time in the future, possibly into a new transport hub.”
LYNDA WALTHO, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR STOURBRIDGE, quoted in the Express & Star newspaper in advance of the official launch of PPM services,31st January 2006
“We are always keen to look at innovative ways of providing better public transport – and this new technology could prove to be just the answer for maintaining a vital link.”
COUNCILLOR GARY CLARKE, CHAIRMAN, WEST MIDLANDS TRANSPORT AUTHORITY on 31st January 2006, announcing the official launch of PPM operations at Stourbridge
“The railway industry has largely failed to recognise the potential for cleaner fuels, hybrid drivelines, regenerative braking or lightweight vehicles … If community railways are to be segregated from the main network, and their lower speeds and perhaps lighter rolling stock are to be complemented by, we hope, less demanding regulatory standards, we need to look at new kinds of vehicles for our railway industry.”
“… There is a company close to my former constituency, in Cradley Heath in the West Midlands, that produces something called a Parry People Mover, which it has been trying for 12 years to introduce on a branch line between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge. For various reasons, much of it the fault of the railway industry itself – obsessed as it is with conventional rolling stock – it has not been possible to introduce that vehicle. I should add that presently there is no Sunday service, so it is not as though we are replacing one kind of vehicle with another. But in 12 years we have not managed to introduce that particular vehicle.
“I hope that my noble friend will relay to his fellow Ministers the need for innovation so far as our local railway services are concerned. If we are to save money – and I understand the Government’s need to save money in some local railway services – then innovation is surely essential.”
LORD SNAPE OF WEDNESBURY, 24th May 2005
“We are not seeing our community railways developed here in England. That is partly a question of research but also … of not burdening those railways with masses of regulations. The fact that the Parry People Mover has not been allowed on the Stourbridge Junction line, as referred to by the noble Lord [Snape], is a monument to the regulatory constipation we have in this country. I should think that the amount of paper that has been generated weighs more than the train itself. It is as bad as that.”
|March 2005||“Community railways are paying high costs to lease old trains. This alone is a serious impediment to their development. Some innovative thinking about the rolling stock market is urgently needed. In the longer term the Department for Transport must start planning for new trains for community railways, possibly building on light rail technology.”
Conclusion/Recommendation 7, House of Commons Select Committee on Transport Fifth Report “Rural Railways”
“If you have a service where, for example, only four passengers are using the service, then we need to ask questions about whether maintaining the existing rail service is the right way forward – or whether buses or light rail could provide a better and more flexible alternative for passengers”
ALISTAIR DARLING, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR TRANSPORT, 9th March 2005
“The Black Country has always been a centre for technological innovation. In particular, Parry People Movers, which is mentioned in paragraph 2.5 of the document [the Community Rail Development Strategy], has been developing rolling stock for versions of light rail in recent years. I should declare an interest, as several close friends and members of my family have small investments in [PPM] … The forms of light rail carriages that have been developed have great advantages. They cause less pollution, use less energy and have high-performance acceleration and braking systems. They do not have to be segregated from the surrounding environment with, for example, fencing and are less costly to run.”
|January 2003||”In considering the range of technologies that are available to the network I was able to appreciate very easily the role that lightweight technology can play in supporting the main network. The Parry People Mover would appear to fit the need for economical, light transit very well without many of the onerous power supply requirements of heavier electric traction systems”.
HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL, ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT, 15 January 2003
|November 2002||”As you are aware, a study of ‘Metro’ for Hereford has been carried out by consultants for the Council. Their conclusion was that an Ultra Light Rail system might be economically justifiable and it was in connection with this that officers visited Parry Associates to see the technology”
FROM: TERRY JAMES, LEADER OF THE COUNCIL, HEREFORD COUNCIL, 28 November 2002
|September 2002||”My Visit has convinced me even more that the Parry People Mover could be the solution for moving people along the existing track between Newcastle Central Station, International Centre for Life, the new multi-storey car park which will be used particulary by GNER and the Telewest Arena”
MICHAEL J PARKER, DIRECTOR GENERAL, NEXUS TYNE AND WEAR PTE, 6 September 2002
|March 2002||”The Council remains committed to securing transport solutions that are environmentally sustainable and believes that the Parry People Mover has potential within the borough to form part of a park and ride system which could also be extended to serve the seafront area in due course”
RICHARD PACKHAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, TOWN HALL, GREAT YARMOUTH, 12 March 2002
|April 2001||”The hoped for trial of the PPM on the Stourbridge Branch could represent the breakthrough for yourselves and WMPTA in demonstrating the potential for Ultra Light Rail, using a real operational rail line and having to deal with very real rail industry organisations, in particular, Railtrack”.
”We working with yourselves, have identified a number of locations in the West Midlands conurbation where a PPM link might be the most appropriate system to meet local public transport requirements, and these have been reported to the appropriate PTA committee : given a successful outcome along the lines. Then expansion at such locations would be the next logical step”.
|December 2010||“With many rail services across the country stopped in their tracks by the snow and icy conditions, Stourbridge’s revolutionary gas-powered tram has been proving a runaway success. Amid the chaos which has prevented many commuters from venturing into work, the Parry People Mover has been working its way up and down the line between Stourbridge Town and Junction stations with no disruption to its service – despite the heavy snow and chilly temperatures.”
‘People Mover beats the cold’, Stourbridge News, 30th December 2010
|November 2010||“The PPM [Class 139 railcar] seems ideal for a short branch with a 20mph speed restriction – it is quiet, comfortable and does the job with little fuss. … I wonder: if the PPMs can provide capacity, reliability and economy – where else might they appear in this future age of austerity?”
PAUL BIGLAND, RAIL magazine, 3rd November 2010
|October 2009||“Unless someone comes up with a much cheaper lightweight diesel train, or there is rapid further development of more innovative concepts like the Class 139 Parry People Mover, community lines will have to rely on increasingly hard to come by hand-me-downs from the big railway for many more years to come. That is not something that many activists relish …”
ALAN WILLIAMS, Modern Railways, November 2009
|February 2008||“With Parry People Movers vehicles set to take over the Stourbridge Junction-Stourbridge Town branch from December 2008, interest has revived in whether this truly lightweight and efficient vehicle can restore passenger services over relatively short distances, thereby lowering the cost of operations whilst at the same time providing an appropriate quality service. According to Parry People Movers itself, this could be the solution to providing regular passenger services on lines which currently carry very few passenger trains, or only the very occasional freight, or even ‘heritage’ lines which do not operate daily but which usefully could if an economic, light rail solution (but not an intensive fully-fledged, urban-type tram operation) could step into the breach.
“The entry of Parry People Movers into the national franchised rail operation is significant. The two PPM 60 railcars … will reduce considerably the daily cost of operating and maintaining the short branch and release a Class 153 for London Midland to use elsewhere.”
‘Reinstating rail routes in England – any progress?’, Today’s Railways UK, March 2008
|December 2007||“It has taken years but at last the potential value of this type of technology [lightweight rail] is being recognised. The Department for Transport has decreed that Britain’s shortest branch line, the shuttle between Stourbridge station and the town centre, should be operated by Parry People Movers, which use energy stored in a flywheel for traction and are incredibly efficient. Two are being purchased and will undoubtedly attract attention from around the world.”
CHRISTIAN WOLMAR, Transport Times, December 2007
|November 2007||“‘Tram-trains’ could be used in cities and on rural railway lines, under plans considered by Ministers. The lightweight vehicles, which can run on railway tracks and tram lines, are popular in Europe. They are seen as a potential solution to easing congestion in urban centres and providing a cheaper alternative to conventional trains in country areas.
“Tom Harris, a junior transport minister, confirmed that the Government was interested in trams-trains. He went to Karlsruhe in Germeny two months ago to see them in action. Network Rail has run trials of one design at Stourbridge, Worcestershire [a reference to experimental operation of a PPM railcar in 2005-06].
“Neil Buxton, of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, said: ‘We see them as a way of moving the rural railway into the 21st century. We may well be able to increase services if they are brought into Britain.’
“Passenger transport executives in Leeds and Manchester are considering tram-trains. A DfT spokesman said it was looking at ‘at the benefits and experience of other European countries in using lighter trains.'”
‘Tram-train could revive rural lines’, Sunday Telegraph, 11th November 2007
|September 2007||“In its recent high-level output specification (HLOS) for heavy rail, the Government said it would investigate the development of tram-trains. Of course, we already have seen the good news that Parry People Movers will operate the branch services on the Stourbridge Town-Stourbridge Junction line full-time as part of Govia’s new West Midlands franchise operation… This innovation in DfT thinking could open up many possibilities across the country. The full-time use of PPMs in Stourbridge may not be the final word in the West Midlands.”
MIKE KATZ and JOE FORTUNE, ‘Fresh ideas may soon turn the tide in light rail’s favour’, Tramways & Urban Transit, October 2007
|June 2007||“As far as the movers and shakers in the rail industry are concerned, ‘lightweighting’ is the future. The train builders, Network Rail and the Department for Transport have all been seduced by the idea of lighter trains… The benefits of lightweighting are tangible – less power is needed to shift the train, so the carbon footprint is smaller; there is less wear and tear on the tracks and the maintenance costs are reduced; and the production costs are likely to be much less than for a conventional train… Tram-trains tick the boxes for an industry desperate to shout its green credentials from the rooftops.
“Yet there is already a rail vehicle that can boast emissions four times lower than the average diesel multiple unit, with punctuality and performance figures rarely seen on today’s railway, and which is cheaper to run… [It is Parry People Movers’] belief and hope that [PPML vehicles] could be a shot in the arm for that Holy Grail of the English rail scene – a line reopening. If anything, it’s a sure fire bet for getting people to move to [PPML’s] banner.
“Parry is winning friends and influencing people in the higher echelons of the industry. Both current Rail Minister Tom Harris and his Tory counterpart, Chris Grayling, have made the trip to Stourbridge to see the PPM for themselves, and came away impressed. Network Rail is also very interested in the PPM. [Network Rail’s Chief Engineer Andrew] McNaughton says the results of a year-long trial were impressive. He believes the PPM and bigger equivalents could form part of a family of lightweight trains, with the IEP [InterCity Express Project] at the top and then another high-speed train.
“While the 12-tonne PPM deputised for the 40-tonne-plus Class 153 on the half-mile trip from Stourbridge Junction to Town station for a year of Sundays, it was able to prove it was well ahead of the traditional trains in terms of emissions [and] cost efficiency.”
MARK FORSTER, ‘Moving on up’, RAIL magazine, 6th June 2007
|May 2007||“Transport is often the most obvious of a city’s shortcomings. From Beijing to Tehran to São Paulo, streets are choked with traffic and pedestrians are choking with fumes. The solution to this is clear: good public transport … Rail transport generally does better [than buses].
“A folly can be seen in those Chinese cities that are responding to clogged roads by building carriageways one above the other. Such places would do better to emulate Seoul, whose last mayor tore down an elevated freeway in the middle of the city and thus restored to view a long-buried river seen by the locals as a source of spiritual health. This, and his improvements to public transport systems, have done wonders for his popularity.
“The filthy cities of the urbanising [i.e. developing] world can, and will, clean themselves up, just as the squalid cities of the rich world have done.”
‘Thronged, Creaking and Filthy’, A Special Report on Cities, The Economist, 5th May 2007
|May 2007||“Their [slum dwellers’] first need is to get out of poverty – and the slums. Yet technology, if it brought cheap and reliable commuting, might help: they could then afford to live on less expensive land in the suburbs.”
‘Et in Suburbia Ego’, A Special Report on Cities, The Economist, 5th May 2007
|April 2007||“The Department for Transport’s Review of the Community Rail Development Strategy has endorsed the principle of improving local rail services by using lightweight rail technology or ‘Ultra Light Rail’. The report follows a successful year-long trial Sunday service at Stourbridge in the West Midlands, which used a 50-passenger railcar.
“The DfT review appears to confirm the desirability of lightweight rolling stock and lists several benefits, including reductions in infrastructure costs, fuel use and running times. It also suggests that it is Network Rail’s responsibility to develop lightweight solutions for community rail.
“The document singles out the Stourbridge trial, pioneered by Cradley Heath based parry People Movers. It states that ‘the use of a lightweight vehicle on the Stourbridge Town branch has shown that the vehicle can run reliably and there may be scope for all-week operation.”
PETER PLISNER, BBC Midlands transport correspondent, in the Rapid Transit page of Bus & Coach Professional, 13th April 2007
|December 2006||“The establishment of light rail in cities helps to reduce car ownership more than buses do, according to research from the University of Wuppertal in Germany. Professor Carmen Hass-Klau led a team that looked at 17 cities internationally and found that light rail corridors tended to attract higher income households to their immediate vicinity – within 300 metres of a carriageway – except in the USA, where low income households tend to be found nearest to any form of public transport. The study included London, Brighton, Manchester and Tyne & Wear. Speaking to the Light Rapid Transport Forum at a conference entitled Light Rail & Urban Regeneration, Hass-Klau said: ‘Most public transport corridors have a car-reducing effect. Light rail and tram corridors have a much stronger effect on reducing cars than other forms of public transport.'”
‘Light Rail Cuts Car Ownership’, Rail Professional, January 2007
“It would be truly interesting to see if a new generation of secondary route trains, coupled with some imaginative treatment of the routes they operate over, could repeate the trick of the late 1950s. Then, passengers flocked to use new generation diesel trains as a complete contrast to the grimy and dowdy steam-powered local services they had lost confidence in. Could a new generation of road commuters be tempted by a train that looks sexy and brings with it journey-time improvements and other benefits? Instead of trying to preserve secondary lines in aspic, there is a case for taking a small number and trying a few radical ideas.”
ALAN WHITEHOUSE, Transport Correspondent for BBC North, writing in the October 2006 Rail Professional
“While better marketing often leads to higher passenger numbers [on railway branch lines], controlling costs isn’t so easy, particularly when you’re running heavy rail vehicles. And that’s where the Parry People Mover comes in. …
“The Sunday service [on the Stourbridge Town branch] is operated by the PPM 50, a lightweight railcar that can carry up to 50 passengers at a time. It’s the brainchild of Parry People Movers, a West Midlands-based company that has been experimenting with the concept of ultra light rail for several years. The trial at Stourbridge is being seen as a major breakthrough, not just for the company, but for the concept itself. …
“The stage now appears to be set for a revolution on the railways where many branch lines under threat of closure could get a much-needed reprieve.”
PETER PLISNER, BBC Midlands transport correspondent, writing in the October 2006 Rail Professional
|September 2006||“The financial viability of the country’s beleaguered rural railway lines could be transformed if the government agreed to introduce lighter, faster trains, a senior figure at Network Rail has said. Iain Coucher, deputy chief executive, said the company, which owns and operates the rail infrastructure, was speaking to ministers and safety authorities about the potential move, which would require an easing of rules on trains’ ability to withstand head-on collisions. Protective structures are heavy, slow trains down and increase energy consumption and wear on track. The government is keen to reduce the cost of running rural lines, which require heavy subsidies because the high maintenance and train-operating costs are nowhere near covered by the modest fare revenues.”
‘Lighter, faster trains could transform rural lines’, Financial Times, 19th September 2006
“Stourbridge Junction, south west of Birmingham, is worth a visit. Here … the flywheel-driven Parry People Mover is working the short branch to and from Stourbridge Town – with the active support of local Passenger Transport Executive Centro. Admittedly, the People Mover only operates on Sundays. But Centro is impressed that, despite the fact that a Sunday service has never been provided before, patronage has been good and reliability virtually 100%. Operationally, the cost is claimed to be about half that of the single-car Class 153 normally employed, and negotiations are now underway to extend usage to the rest of the week. In its present form the Parry vehicle would be unsuitable for longer branch lines, but its lightweight construction and easy level access point the way for community lines, especially where only one train is normally in use.”
ALAN WILLIAMS, Modern Railways, September 2006
“The technology works, is certified, and is in operation on a full-size, operational railway… PPM is starting to become a seriously realistic, cost-effective option for public transport and it deserves to succeed.
“It is, by far, the best compromise between conventional light rail and bus operation I’ve yet seen and given the trend for making new trains heavier and heavier must be the only sane game in town for a cost-effective Pacer replacement.”
ANDREW RODEN, Associate Editor, International Railway Journal, July 2006
“One way of improving things would be to spend railways’ existing cash more rationally. Stephen Grant, a rail consultant, points out that rural services receive 60% of the subsidy but account for only 16% of passenger kilometres travelled. ‘A lot of these trains are maintained to the same standard as 90mph main-line services, he says. “But all they do is potter up and down a branch line all day.’ … Old lines can be re-used as cheaper light-rail systems.”
THE ECONOMIST, 8th July 2006
“… By applying light rail philosophies and technology to Community Railways, and having regard to the need to replace a substantial part of the multiple-unit fleet that provides these services, a win-win situation can be created. More attractive passenger services with local focus and marketing, accessible to all but integrated into the National Rail network, can be provided cost-effectively. Revenues will be increased, and both costs and subsidies will be reduced. Such an approach would be sustainable and environmentally friendly and be more attractive to the public than service withdrawals or bustitution.”
D SCOTT HELLEWELL FCILT FCMI, ‘Pacers, Sprinters, tram/trains and Community Railways’, Railway Strategies, April-May 2006
“Our frequent support of transport initiatives that widen choice and help pull the North-East together will be well known to readers. So one might think backing for the proposal to link the East Coast main line to Alnwick with an ultra-modern tram would be a given.
“But, while The Journal does support it, it does so only because the plan really is a corker.
“It advantages are many, but none more so that that it would improve access to the popular market town for tourists and commuters without boosting traffic on the A1. At £1m it is also cheap, thanks to the new tram being able to use old rail lines that are still in place. And the local railway society has most of the money lined up too.
“No wonder then that we say: let it roll.”
‘Let the Good Times Roll’, leader article in The Journal (North East England), 24th March 2006, referring to plans for a PPM lightweight rail system between Alnwick and Alnmouth
“As I waited on the platform at Stourbridge Junction for the Parry People Movers railcar, I was almost deafened by the roar from the diesel engines that erupted as a commuter train left the platform opposite. On seeing the arriving railcar moments later I had to check that my hearing was not permanently damaged, because it approached in apparent silence. …
“The railcar’s design philosophy has had green credentials at the top from the outset. The innovative propulsion system stores kinetic energy using a spinning flywheel … When the brakes are applied, instead of a friction brake causing wear to brake pads and loss of momentum, energy is essentially taken from the vehicle’s forward motion and changed into rotational motion to spin the flywheel. This is effective right down to zero [speed].
“Much of the design is based on standard automotive technology … As automotive components are made in much greater quantities than are train components, this cuts costs significantly. Use of the railcar on an existing line also promises to reduce track maintenance costs. A lighter vehicle helps to limit the hammer blow dynamic effect on the track when running at speed. If building a new line, less heavy-duty tracks would be needed, reducing start-up costs and making construction easier and quicker.”
JUSTIN CUNNINGHAM, ‘Travel by flywheel’, Professional Engineering, 22nd February 2006
|October 2005||“We sometimes don’t appreciate the innovations taking place in our midst. The Wensleydale Railway together with Parry People Movers are collaborating to showcase the potential of a new way forward for public transport in the UK and abroad. They are working together on the development of a new generation of railcars suitable for use on community railways. The railcar took us, invited ‘media’ plus a few rather surprised chattering tourists, from Leeming to a small halt at Springwell Lane just short of Northallerton (with bus link). It’s a smart vehicle which can carry about 50 people, not all seated, and has had trials in various parts of the country and is about to be put into full service in the Stourbridge area (West Midlands).
“Now, frankly, it was a bumpy ride in parts, because of the freight-only track and because the four wheels, close together, are not on a sprung bogie, but the next development, specially planned to be trialled on the Wensleydale line will be a bit like a ‘bendy bus’ with sprung bogies.
“And consider this! It runs on a LPG gas cylinder, with a horizontal flywheel energy store which means extremely efficient running, recapturing braking energy for re-use when accelerating: literally pence per mile! There is no step to climb; your pram or wheelchair runs straight in.
“And what a wonderful chance timing, as people are freaking out over petrol shortages. We really do need new thinking, and here it is taking place under our noses in the dales.”
ALAN WATKINSON, ‘A Rail Treat’, The Upper Wensleydale Newsletter, October 2005
“An academic has reignited the light rail v buses debate by claiming that trams are better at reducing congestion. Professor Richard Knowles of the University of Salford also told the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society last week that when used at capacity light rail is cheaper to run per passenger kilometre than buses.
“Around 20% of peak period passengers on the 7 existing tram and light rail systems previously used cars compared with just 6.4% on bus schemes, his research showed. Light rail is also faster, shifting passengers at speeds up to 22km/h compared to buses at 10 to 14km/h in ordinary traffic.
“Prof Knowles said: ‘Light rail schemes outside London were scrapped by the British Government on the grounds that they are too costly and require more public sector funding than the Government is willing to pay. This has only highlighted the need to both find way of reducing the high cost of building and operating light rail routes and buying trams and to become less dependent on Government for capital funding'”
‘Light rail vs buses argument reopens’, Transport Times
|August 2005||“One less-publicised conclusion of the [National Audit Office’s report ‘Improving public transport in England through light rail’ (April 2004)] was its recommendation that funding should provided by the government for ‘innovative light rail’ to be developed and demonstrated. So it is strange that the [Department for Transport] has never given serious attention to a concept that is gaining credibility and seems a very obvious way forward:
Ultra Light Rail.”
“Much of the high cost of light rail schemes is in installing the infrastructure to provide a continuous supply of power for the whole length of the route. What, instead, if you had self-powered vehicles that would not require the whole hassle of so much street-work and which could be powered by relatively ‘green’ methods?”
“[The PPM 35 vehicle operated by Bristol Electric Railbus] carried 50,000 fare-paying passengers and the tram proved highly popular with the public.
The six-ton vehicle, with capacity for 35 passengers, was powered by ‘green’ electricity and ran on energy stored in a flywheel. It therefore had zero emissions, no pantograph or overhead wires and no electric current to be earthed through the rails.”
“The whole idea of self-powered trams seems an obvious one. The metal-on-metal of rail systems is far more fuel efficient than rubber-on-road, and trams have all kinds of advantages over buses in town centres.”
“… It seems obvious that the idea of self-powered trams should be considered in the light of the huge infrastructure costs of providing new lines and the lack of money available.”
CHRISTIAN WOLMAR, ‘Rail ultra-lite! A powerful case for self-powered trams’, RAIL magazine, 31st August 2005
“Car users are notoriously difficult to persuade on to buses. But they will get on board a train or tram if the price is right and the service does what it says on the tin – or at least on the timetable.”
ALAN WHITEHOUSE, Transport Correspondent for BBC North, writing in the July 2005 Rail Professional
“The most urgent need for these [Community Railway] lines, to give them any real chance of long term survival, is a major relaxation in the requirements that govern their operating environment … with the object of achieving what might be called ‘light rail’ operating rules, similar to tramways, on many lines.
“There needs to be a DfT-led review of rolling stock availability and engineering resources for Community lines. It should encourage the establishment of a separate, ‘Community Railway’ fleet of rolling stock … specifically for such lines, with stock restricted in speed and mileage, and with in return suitably less onerous operating and maintenance regimes.”
“Only by radically reducing costs, with a simpler, more appropriate operating environment, can such lines now hope to survive.”
ALAN WILLIAMS, Modern Railways, July 2005
|February 2003||”There were no perceived exhaust emissions, no noise pollution whatsoever, and the livery was smart and in keeping with a modern form of transport. On board the seating was comfortable (the PPM can carry up to 50 people, seated and standing), the all round visibility was excellent, and there was no noise at all to interrupt conversation.” JOHN WORKMAN, Journalist, Black Country Bugle|
“Greenhouse-gas emissions can be cut in four ways [including] switching to lower-carbon technologies for power, heat and transport.”
“Large-scale uptake of a range of clean power, heat and transport technologies is required for radical [carbon dioxide] emission cuts in the medium to long term. … Deep cuts in the transport sector are likely to be difficult in the shorter term, but will ultimately be needed. while many of the technologies to achieve this already exist, the priority is to bring down their costs so that they are competitive with fossil-fuel alternatives under a carbon-pricing policy regime.”
“Climate change policy can help to root out existing inefficiencies.”
“The need for action is urgent: demand for energy and transportation is growing rapidly in many developing countries.”
STERN REVIEW: THE ECONOMICS OF CLIMATE CHANGE, 30th October 2006
|June 2006||“Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander is gearing up to put the environment at the top of his political priorities. Senior Whitehall sources say that he is determined to tackle carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from road transport which, if unchecked, will grow by nearly 50% by 2020 compared to their 1995 levels. Traffic already accounts for a quarter of all UK greenhouse gas emissions. It is understood that a large number of proposals are being considered and that future transport funding decisions could be much more closely linked to environmental concerns.
“… In [Mr Alexander’s] letter of appointment prime minister Tony Blair stressed that transport was ‘critical to our long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions’.”
“Alexander refocuses DfT on the environment”, Transport Times, 16th June 2006
|February 2006||“The situation in Stourbridge demonstrates the ‘problem’ of lightly used rail lines where the provision of a rail link is publicly celebrated yet traffic volumes do not provide sufficient revenue to create a business case. … The most significant feature of rail as a mode of passenger transport is its costs. High initial costs of infrastructure (stations, track and rolling stock), in addition to the cost of fuels, signalling and staffing, mean that there are barriers to entrepreneurs entering the market, and subsidies mean that the rail network is a burden to central government. The Parry People Mover is able to offer environmental benefits from its fuel use, quoted as a quarter of the fuel that conventional rail vehicles use, and the cost of each vehicle is two-thirds that of the vehicles used at present [PPM NOTE: vehicle cost depends on specification and can be much lower than this]”
“The methods of operating the Parry People Mover are where communities benefit most highly. Through reduced stopping distances crossings can be co-ordinated by traditional traffic light systems while the users of mobility aids are able to cross the track at level. Services can be run more frequently and stations can be closer together.”
MATTHEW ALBERY, “National Rail – towards a more ‘open’ rail network?”, Action Briefing (newsletter of Birmingham Friends of the Earth), February-March 2006
Specifiers of public transport systems are aware of the strong appeal of the absence of adverse environmental impacts (noise and pollution) at the point of encounter. For the passenger this is at the station; for the community, the public spaces through which the line passes. Until now the environmental advantage has had to be bought at a very high cost by electrifying the routes of trains and trams. This includes the high level of maintenance skills and sophisticated central facilities required by electrification.
Over a decade of development work has led to the PPM technology which addresses the essential requirements of high quality, modern public transport :
1. No perceived exhaust emissions in public places.
2. Low noise inside and outside the vehicle.
3. Vehicles which can be operated and maintained using resources which are available locally.
4. Ride quality good enough for passengers to feel secure when standing while the vehicle is moving.
The result, which is now available to public transport authorities and operators, is a ready-to-roll rail-based transport system. This meets all the essential requirements and can be maintained locally on a railway branch line or small tramway.
To have achieved the attributes and benefits for a modern tramway or suburban rail system without having to confront the high capital cost thresholds of electrification and complex suspension is a major advance in light rail technology.
The high environmental quality of the Parry People Mover concept resulted in the award to the company of ‘Millennium Product’ Status from the Design Council and two ‘Smart Award’ for industrial achievement.