The Anonymous Widower

Stourbridge And The Parry People Mover

I went to Stourbridge to see the Parry People Mover that is used on the branch line between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town.

But as the pictures show, I also found a well-thought-out solution to the problem of how do you create an integrated transport hub in a town.

It was one of the first bus interchanges I’ve found outside London, where if you’d been dropped to get to X, you could have found the way without asking anybody.

One thing the pictures don’t show, is that on both trips the number of people on the train was more than you generally see on the Class 153 between Ipswich and Felixstowe.

I would also recommend the Coffee Collective. It is a short walk from the bus station and is obvious, when you exit the subway.

But having ridden in the Parry People Mover or Class 139, what do I think of it?

The first thing I would say, is that if you look at the pictures, you’ll see it is a genuine step-free entrance and exit. A lady pushed a baby in a buggy into the people mover, when I travelled, and it was as easy as any train I’ve ever seen.

You could say, wouldn’t it be cheaper to use a quality bus at Stourbridge to link Stourbridge Junction with the bus station in the town. Obviously, London Midland hasn’t done this. But, when they did this in the past, they brought back the Class 153, so perhaps this connecting train is a great traffic generator for services to Birmingham.

Other than that, it just did what you would expect a train would do and transported the around twenty passengers to the other station without fuss. The vehicle had a feel somewhat like the Docklands Light Railway, although it was a lot smaller.

As it is powered by a flywheel driven by a small internal combustion engine, this type of vehicles could have a range issue, but it won’t be as severe as that of a battery-powered one. In this section on the future of the Class 139 in Wikipedia, this is said.

This will entail an articulated unit, with a pair of PPM60 variants at either end of a fixed passenger unit—the whole unit will be capable of accommodating up to 220 passengers and travelling at up to 60 miles per hour (100 km/h) on railways or 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) on tramways.

If a double vehicle could move even 100 passengers over a distance of fifteen miles, then the branch line I know best; Ipswich to Felixstowe, could be run by such a people mover. It probably isn’t much slower than the Class 153, so it shouldn’t give too many problems with scheduling amongst the freight trains.

Two vehicles would probably be needed for the line, but it would seem likely that the frequency of passenger trains could be increased.

A special version of the vehicle could be designed for tourist branch lines such as the one at St. Ives, with space for bicycles.

How much extra traffic would shiny new trains, running more often, generate?

Having seen this first use of a simple energy-efficient people mover, I think that in a few years time, vehicles based on similar principles will become commonplace. Just as London’s new Routemaster, has shown that buses should be hybrid with flat floors and lots of entrances/exits, we will see a series of rail vehicles, where flywheels or batteries are used to create efficient hybrid drive systems and stylish modern vehicles sized to the traffic.

Eventually, I think we’ll see this type of train on a branch like Romford to Upminster, which is only about six kilometres long and has a speed limit of only 30 mph. If they are the only traffic on such a branch, this would remove the need for electrification. You probably wouldn’t take it down, but you’d switch it off. On the other hand this would make it easier to nick!

But because this type of vehicle doesn’t need electrification or other expensive infrastructure, it also opens up the possibility of adding new services and even lines. Go back to Felixstowe. The town used to have a station at Felixstowe Beach, which is close to the port and still served by the Felixstowe branch. It might at some point be thought to be a good idea to restart this service. It would be so much easier to do this with a vehicle like a Class 139 or a successor.

There are also quite a few heritage and freight-only branch lines connected to the main UK rail network. Could vehicles like this be used to run commercial services to connect passengers to the network? It would all depend on the branch line, but some companies are looking at possibilities.

Once one scheme is successfully up and running, I feel others will quickly follow.




November 20, 2014 - Posted by | Food, Transport | , , ,


  1. […] suppose the only truly very light rail system in the UK, is the Parry People Mover in Strourbridge, which is a lightweight vehicle powered by an innovative electric drive train using a flywheel for […]

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  2. […] I wrote about the Parry People Mover in Stourbridge And The Parry People Mover. […]

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