The Anonymous Widower

Green Mini-Trains To Reverse Beeching’s Cuts

The title of this post is the same as an article in Saturday’s copy of The Times.

This is a paragraph.

The government is funding trials of an “ultra-light”, environmentally friendly train powered by gas from organic waste in place of a conventional diesel engine.

Members of the consortium developing the concept include Birmingham City University and Parry People Movers.

I wrote about the Parry People Mover in Stourbridge And The Parry People Mover.

It did the shuttling of people between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town stations in a professional manner and it can’t have done much wrong, as it still is.

The technology that drives the train is based on a flywheel and is innovative to say the least. This section in the Wikipedia entry for Parry People Movers is called Technology.

This is the first two paragraphs of the section.

PPMs utilise a rotating flywheel as a store of kinetic energy which is then used to power the vehicle. A typical PPM flywheel is made from steel laminates, approximately 1 m (39 in) in diameter and 500 kg (1,100 lb) in mass, designed to rotate at a maximum speed of 2,500 rpm.[8] The flywheel is mounted horizontally at the centre of the unit, beneath the seating area. The flywheel is driven by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor. The flywheel is connected to the rail wheels via a hydrostatic variable transmission system.

The flywheel allows the direct capture of brake energy (when slowing down or descending gradients) and its re-use for acceleration (called regenerative braking). When the vehicle brakes, the hydrostatic transmission feeds the energy back into the flywheel. Since the short-term power demand for acceleration is provided by the energy stored in the flywheel, there is no need for a large engine. A variety of small engine types can be used including LPG, diesel or electric traction.

I have done a calculation of the kinetic energy in the flywheel and it is surprisingly low at 0.6 kWh if it is a disc and 1.2 kWh if it is a ring.

A capacitor of the same mass would hold about the same amount of energy, but would probably need a more complicated transmission.

June 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Could Parry People Movers Replace The Class 153s?

On the Stourbridge Town Branch Line, Parry People Movers or Class 139 trains, have replaced a Class 153 train on the short route.

As there are seventy of the Class 153s, how many of these could be replaced by the smaller Class 139s.

I feel that a line like the Felixstowe branch could probably just be covered adequately, by two Class 139s working together. They would start simultaneously at Ipswich and Felixstowe, every thirty minutes. The current Class 153 is scheduled to take twenty-six minutes, which means it would be tight and would probably need a train with a bit higher performance than the current Class 139.

But if you look at this line in a few years, it is likely that it will be electrified for freight reasons and I suspect that passenger trains on the branch will be reorganised and run by a suitable electric train. I do wonder if the Ipswich Cambridge line were to be electrified and given an increased service frequency, that some of these trains should be extended to Felixstowe or Harwich. Extra stations might also be added on the Felixstowe line to both serve the port and new housing developments. The area has lived on scraps and hand-me-down trains for years, but now that the Beccles Loop and the Bacon Factory Curve have been built, the trains are at last generating traffic and running more frequently and reliably.

Looking at where the seventy single coach Class 153 trains are used, quite a few are used on lines a lot longer than the Felixstowe branch. When I took a trip around Wiltshire, a lot of the journey was in a Class 153, but probably the route is too long, fast and busy for the smaller Class 139.

So I would think that some Class 153s and possibly some Class 150s or 156s might be able to be replaced on services by Class 139s or a bigger version, but not many. A specialist version with lots of space for bicycles, wheelchairs and luggage might also have applications in tourist areas like the St. Ives branch.

Another likely source of replacement is some new Class 172s. This has been hinted at by a rail minister and we do have a General Election coming up. If money was no object, all of those rural lines that will probably never be electrified like those in the North of Scotland, Lincolnshire, East Anglia, Wales and the West Country, would be equipped with a new standard train like a Class 172, built to last for the next forty years. Class 172s also have the advantage that they can be lengthened by adding extra coaches in the middle and coupled together to make longer sets. I suspect too, they could also be updated in a decade or so, with an energy-efficient, quieter hybrid power train.

In my view an order for some Class 172s would solve a lot of problems for a long time.

A start has also been made on refurbishing some of the Class 156s and these will probably all be retained for many years. As some of these Class 156s are used on lines that will be electrified, they could be a replacement for Class 153s and 150s, where something better and/or bigger is needed.

The Class 15x trains may all be getting on for thirty years old, but many could linger a good few years. Especially, if engineers keep finding ways of updating them, like these new toilets.

So to answer my original question. Parry People Movers or their larger successors might have a place in some places in the UK, but I can’t see too many running in say ten years time, except under special circumstances like Stourbridge, where a high frequency service is needed over a short distance.

Perhaps some might be used on new services, where a small town or attraction needs to be connected to a main line. One place for example might be to link Yeovil Junction to Yeovil Pen Mill and then possibly to the town centre. The track exists between the two stations, which don’t have any connections and are served by totally different companies and services


November 21, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

To Stourbridge And Back

I went to Stourbridge today essentially to see the town and the Parry People Mover, but I took these pictures on my way up by Chiltern from Marylebone and back on Virgin to Euston.

The trips illustrated the best and worst points of the two companies and their trains.

Chiltern has the more comfortable trains, with big windows and free wi-fi, but the journey takes longer.

One small thing that surprised me was the quality of both the Class 172 trains and the stations it passed through, on the way from Birmingham Moor Street to Stourbridge Junction. In some ways though it is a reasonably modern line, as it was only reopened in 1995 as the Jewellery Line Project, which created Birmingham’s cross-city passenger route between Moor Street and Snow Hill. Wikipedia says this about the Birmingham to Worcester via Kiderminster Line, on which Stourbridge Junction is located.

It is a future aspiration of Chiltern Railways and Network Rail to electrify the entire line, including the Chiltern Main Line to London Marylebone.

I’ve always thought that electrification of the Chiltern Line should be done before HS2, so that there is adequate capacity between London and Birmingham, whilst Euston is rebuilt.

Another reason to electrify the Snow Hill Lines sooner rather than later would be so that some of these Class 172 trains could be released for other routes.


November 20, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 | , , , | 2 Comments