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Industry Comment

This page contains comment by the transport industry about, or relevant to, PPM technology and developments.  See also Environmental Comment, Passenger Comment, Political & Government Comment and Media Comment.

Date Comment Source

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

July 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."
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"
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."
See also our Press Release responding to the Strategy.
June 2003

"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."

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''.
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''.
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''.

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Page last updated: 11 January, 2012
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