PARRY NEWS - Issue 36
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Editorial : Chasewater Railway trial
: GCR raises PPM profile : Car 12 at
Chasewater : Wyre Forest and Hants studies
Stourbridge saga : Shareholders respond positively
: Stonehenge promotion : Railcar design
Rail journalists sit up and take notice - Feature Article
RAIL TRAVEL FOR ALL
By John Parry
Up to £2,000 in lifestyle enhancement for commuters and other regular
travellers who are able to join the ‘fortunate few’ with access
to rail links
PHONE USERS WELCOME’ would be an unlikely notice to find on the
window of a train. But scarcely odd, since people are perfectly willing
to tolerate chat between fellow passengers they can see and, after a moment’s
reflection, most would agree that phoning from a train is from all points
of view much to be preferred to phoning from the car. Indeed, the ability
to read the paper, use your laptop and phone friends and colleagues –
things that would otherwise have to be done in office or home time –
is one of the chief advantages of travel by train and a feature you would
expect the train companies to draw more attention to. Train travel makes
quality time available which is lost in most other modes of transport,
especially the private car.
traffic congestion grows, so is the amount of time which could be used
more productively as a passenger rather than a driver. ‘Time is
the new money’ is a remark quoted from one of the union leaders
in the recent BA ‘swipe-card’ dispute. If 10 hours commuting
by rail each week were regarded as time made available rather than time
lost, what is the value to the person concerned? Probably in excess of
£2,000 a year!
is not therefore the moment to be considering cutting back rail based
public transport but instead for finding ways of making it more generally
available. But this will not be possible if use of the mode is ring-fenced
by people saying ‘It must be done our way (expensively!)’.
chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority, under dire financial constraint
from the investment arrears of Network Rail and its predecessors, has
recently proposed a lower standard of maintenance for routes off the main
line. Despite cries of ‘Heresy!’ from old time religion, the
idea should be welcomed at least for the recognition that branch lines,
with their lower speeds, lighter rolling stock and simplified methods
of operation, do not need the same elaborate safety equipment and track
maintenance as the mainline express. An affordable regime for branch lines
(with appropriate rolling stock, of course) will not only save money but
has the potential vastly to expand the rail market and bring all kinds
of social benefits.
use of rails to aid movement remains a fascinating and wide ranging subject.
Applications vary from rails supporting complete bookshelves in reference
libraries which can be moved along in order to save aisle space, to carrying
huge overhead cranes in steelworks, to ‘white knuckle rides’
at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. In the 1950s when Dr Beeching was planning
to cut down the railway network neither he nor his colleagues gave sufficient
thought to the possibility of a secondary level of railway operation borrowing
ideas from the rapidly disappearing tram systems.
trunk lines to branches to twigs and twiglets. Trams are a form of railway
and should be seen as capillaries to the overall system and no less essential
to it than the capillaries of our bloodstream. Trams have an appropriate
standards regime which makes them highly accessible, allows pedestrians
to cross the track, does not require signals or stations etc. New thinking
will allow some branch lines to be reclassified as tramways and take on
new life in consequence. And the reverse could happen as the market develops.
sure, the big system is unlikely to prosper without its capillaries. Mainline
station parking lots will grow to the size of cricket fields and weary
passengers parked in the outfield will be losing the ‘new money’
they gained by choosing rail.
TRIAL OF TRAMWAY-STYLE OPERATION ON RURAL LINE
Chasewater Railway co-operates in ground-breaking demonstration
of new technology and simplified working of a self-contained railway
Concerns about the costs of operating rural railways are again sending
shivers down the spines of people in a number of towns and villages which
have loss-making train services. Academics, journalists and politicians,
men of limited vision, have again begun to claim that the only way to
cut rural railway losses is to close the lines. (Presumably the same people
believe the most effective cure for a verruca is foot amputation.) In
June, however, the Strategic Rail Authority and Network Rail decided to
commission the Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) under
Dr Paul Salveson to investigate the extent to which changes in method
of operation could improve the economics of a rural railway. A strongly-argued
report can be very effective – but how much more so if some hard
facts are supplied to justify the findings ...
fresh from the technical success of the public service trials of PPM’s
Car 12 at the Great Central Railway (a main line heritage system in Leicestershire),
PPM have now reached agreement with the Chasewater Railway (CR) and HMRI
to try putting Dr Salveson’s ideas into practice in two months of
working trials on a short, self-contained light railway which has its
headquarters on the borders of Lichfield and Walsall. The CR is unusual
as a volunteer-run line with members being as much interested in innovation
as in railway heritage. It has recently recovered from the blight and
uncertainty associated with the arrival of the new M6 toll road (BNNR),
using compensation for the loss of its southern base by extending northwards
to Chasetown on the edge of Cannock Chase, crossing a large artificial
lake, Chasewater. Provisional plans for the pilot rural railway exercise
are for the PPM tram to operate a half-hourly service 3-4 days each week
between Brownhills West and Chasetown Church Street calling at an intermediate
Park & Ride station at Chasewater Heaths and a halt at Lakeside.
GCR SERVICE RUNNING RAISES PEOPLE MOVER PROFILE
favouring PPM concept now advancing in many locations in England, Scotland
PPM’s eleven years of dedicated engineering development and reasoned
advocacy of its rail concept is gaining relevance with authorities from
all over the British Isles. Trams are, at last recognised as having a
crucial role to play but there is a lack of a scaled down form. Meanwhile,
on the railways, current cost runaways caused by one – size-fits-all
policy has re-ignited the threat of line closures unless cheaper to buy
and operate equipment is introduced. In both instances the PPM approach
is being picked up by users and specifiers as a promising way forward.
pronouncements in recent days by authorities as far apart as Aberdeen,
Hampshire, Great Yarmouth and Kidderminster confirm their acceptance of
the validity of the PPM concept for both rural railways and urban tramways.
Meanwhile PPM car 12’s running on the Great Central Railway has
caused railway journalists and photographers to take notice. A phase of
evaluation and discussion is beginning and PPM hope that at long last
‘action’ will begin to take over from words, words and more
words, (the new 'British Disease').
CAR 12 SETTLES IN AT CHASEWATER RAILWAY
arrival at the CR on July 30th Car 12 was immediately run up the line
to Chasewater Heaths and back to Brownhills in order to check line clearances
WYRE FOREST AND HANTS COUNCILS ANNOUNCE PEOPLE MOVER STUDIES
authorities have announced their decision to proceed with studies of transit
systems based on the PPM concept
On 23 July Wyre Forest Council issued a press release stating that the
working group set up to examine the potential for a light rail link between
Kidderminster and Bewdley has given the green light for a feasibility
study using £25,000 of funding raised by the partners. The feasibility
study will look at likely demand for the service, capacity and frequency,
car parking requirements of users and the likely economic and transport
impact on the District as a whole. Partners in the working party are Wyre
Forest District Council, Worcestershire County Council, Severn Valley
Railway, West Midlands Regional Assembly, Central Trains and Parry. The
report should be completed by early December.
working party Chairman, Cllr Howard Martin, Leader of Wyre Forest District
Council, says he is delighted that progress seems possible on the issue
and said ‘we are in the early stages at the moment but this potentially
is very exciting for the District. We are totally committed to improving
the quality of life for residents of the District and making our area
more attractive to visitors to Wyre Forest. This rail service should be
a major positive step if it comes off and would be particularly beneficial
to commuters’. He added that ‘a light rail link between Kidderminster
and Bewdley would be a fantastic asset and a massive boost to the local
economy. There is a lot of support for the project and if viable we will
make it work. Central Trains are particularly interested in how it could
link in to their services to Birmingham and beyond so we could potentially
be vastly increasing people’s travel options’.
in South Hampshire, following detailed examination of the transit needs
of the area by the officers leading the SHRT, a decision had been taken
by the County Council and White Horse Ferries to jointly commission a
feasibility study into the possible operation of a PPM vehicle along Hythe
Pier to replace the existing pier train, together with an extension into
Hythe village, to provide for a better penetration of the ferry’s
catchment. There is a budget of £10,000 for the study which will
determine the likely costs of providing a service and upgrading the track
along the pier. Recommendations on appropriate gauge, motive power, ultimate
destination and the issue of interworking with ordinary traffic will be
included in its scope. A brief has been issued to W S Atkins and Parry
to jointly undertake the study.
in nearby Weymouth, the local Borough Council were in touch at the end
of July to let PPM know that, though short of finance to themselves proceed
with developing a tramway service, they and the County Council will look
positively on any private sector initiative. To this end the local paper,
the Dorset Echo, a strong advocate of bringing the harbourside tramway
back into use, will be encouraged to publicise the requirement for a local
‘White Knight’ to push the project forward.
With the negotiation to establish a PPM shuttle on the Stourbridge Town
Branch now in its 4th year, recent friendly interventions by the Strategic
Rail Authority and Central Trains seem to justify PPM’s decision
to ‘hang in there’ and see the project through to fulfilment.
It now comes down to the need for parallel exemptions to be granted by
HM Railway Inspectorate. The infrastructure owner, Network Rail, and the
Operator, PMO Ltd, have been requested to make co-ordinated submissions
describing the proposed operation in the context of NR’s railway
safety case and PMO’s tramway safety case. This work is in hand.
After the exemptions are issued all that is needed is construction of
a shed for the vehicle and access to it. That’s all!
PPM STRIVES TO KEEP UP MOMENTUM DESPITE GAP CAUSED BY STOURBRIDGE
respond positively to questionnaire regarding future funding strategy,
with strong wish to keep control.
early July John Parry wrote to PPM shareholders with an update on the
company’s progress. At the same time he canvassed views on how to
deal with the need for working capital while projects remain as mere ‘prospects’
rather than money-earning firm orders. Of 4 options, A., B, C, and D,
the first and last comprised measures which would result in some dilution
of ownership and control, while B and C involved pushing for revenue from
project preparation work (feasibility studies etc) but when necessary,
for directors and shareholders to again dig into their pockets ...
38 responses received by early August, there was little interest shown
in either of the options which dilute control but 31 favoured C and B,
in that order as the best way for PPM to continue to fund its present
activities until revenue arrives.
is the level of interest in the market place, the board considered that
now is not the time for the project to lose any momentum.
PPM board will soon again be talking to its shareholders – ‘oh
no, not again’ some will say – regarding its further interim
financing needs. Other strategic moves are afoot, however, which could
slightly expand the shareholder base bringing in a new group of like-minded
investors committed to renewable energy systems.
STONEHENGE PROMOTION CONTINUES
PPM have produced
a special model to illustrate how
its car 12 in low floor format might appear at Stonehenge
A decision was taken in the last decade of the 20th Century to improve
the experience for people coming to Britain’s foremost ancient monument
by creating a Visitor Centre remote from the Stones and providing a means
of transport between. English Heritage’s Project Manager visited
the Great Central Railway on May 22nd in order to familiarise himself
with the technical and performance features of PPM Car 12.
RAILCAR DESIGN FOR TRADITIONALLY CONSTRUCTED RAILWAYS
Traditionally-constructed railways have lengths of track joined by ‘fishplates’
and bolts. After extended use, especially by heavy axle locomotives, the
ends of the rails deflect, creating ‘dips’ in the track at
the joints. Keeping the track level involves additional expense especially
if the joints are welded to create long sections without joints.
existence of dipped joints hardly affects railways subject to 26 mph light
railway speed restrictions when passenger carriages are of typical length
and have ‘bogie’ running gear (two short pivotal chassis each
with two axles). However, simple two axle, short wheelbase vehicles, such
as many of the traditional British trams used in Sheffield and elsewhere
prior to 1960 would have difficulty running over severely dipped joint
tracks. The ride would be uncomfortable – the term ‘porpoising’
is self explanatory. PPM Cars 10, 11 and 12 have tram-style short wheel
bases, not ideal for lines such as the Severn Valley and Great Central.
order to retain the important economies of the simple two axle running
gear, PPM vehicles will need lengthened wheel bases to run on such traditionally
constructed railways. Shown below is a design showing a wheelbase lengthened
to 4.2m (Car 12’s is 2.4m). The ‘curving’ ability will
be adequate for typical standard gauge railways and the ride will be greatly
improved. Further improvements will include self-levelling shock absorbers
based on automotive practice, and, if conditions are considered to be
particularly harsh, an increase in wheel diameter from 600 to 800mm. The
lengthened wheelbase makes it possible to bring all propulsion equipment
within the axles providing greater stability. A one metre increase in
body length providing over 30 seats with space for an equal number of