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News Archive 2006


Go to Latest News page for recent updates or archive years 2009 : 2008 : 2007 : 2006 : 2005 : 2004 : 2003

Date News Item
21st December 2006 PPML INNOVATIONS MATCH NEED IDENTIFIED BY TRANSPORT EXPERTS
The January 2007 issue of Rail Professional magazine contains two separate articles highlighting the benefits of lightweight rail.  It reports the findings of Professor Carmen Hass-Klau showing that trams and light rail systems are more effective than other forms of public transport at reducing local car ownership, while also featuring an article by Professor Andrew McNaughton - Chief Engineer of Network Rail - explaining why transport systems of the future must use less energy and feature lighter vehicles.  PPML's lightweight rail concepts involve energy-efficient vehicles which at the same time make it possible for the quality of modern light rail to be made available in a much greater number of urban areas.  Relevant quotes can be seen on the Media Comment and Industry Comment pages respectively.
20th December 2006
RAIL MINISTER POINTS WAY TO EFFICIENT LIGHTWEIGHT ROLLING STOCK
Writing in the January 2007 issue of Modern Railways magazine, Tom Harris MP - the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, outlines the way for development of British railways in the next 30 years.  His vision includes many aspects in line with PPML's concepts, including lightweight, energy efficient rolling stock coupled with improved track standards as a replacement for 'Pacer' trains and a target of a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions (calculations based on operation at on the Stourbridge Town branch showed that a PPM 50 railcar gave an 80% CO2 saving compared to heavy rail).  Excerpts from the Minister's article can be seen on the Political & Government Comment page.
19th December 2006
ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR PPML TRANSPORT INNOVATION
David Miliband, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, has communicated to PPML's project managers his interest in lightweight rail which achieves an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to heavy rail operation.  See the Political & Government Comment page.
18th December 2006 TRANSPORT MARKET ALIGNS ITSELF TO PARRY LIGHTWEIGHT RAIL CONCEPT
PPML has issued a new press release in response to recent indications from the transport industry and government, and following the company's annual general meeting on 11th December.
18th December 2006
DEPOTS FOR LIGHTWEIGHT RAILCARS
A leaflet showing how maintenance facilities for lightweight rail vehicles can be set up is now featured on the Brochures & Leaflets page.  A complete building has been built at Stourbridge Junction using innovative construction techniques and durable materials, providing covered accommodation for maintenance work and a secure site for the PPM 50 railcar.
18th December 2006
99% STOURBRIDGE EXPERIMENTAL OPERATION FINISHES ON HIGH NOTE
The year-long experimental public service using a PPM 50 light railcar operated by Pre Metro Operations Ltd on the Stourbridge Town branch came to an end on 17th December. The operation achieved 99% punctuality and reliability figures, and gave an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared to the heavy rail Monday-Saturday service (which continues as normal).
As a result of the success of this operation, the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority and Centro have called for the Stourbridge Town branch to be converted to PPM operation under the new franchise arrangements coming into force in November 2007. In the meantime, PPML and PMOL are seeking alternative sources of funding in order for Sunday services to continue.
12th December 2006
Newsletter including: Branch Line Re-opening Prospects; Stourbridge Success earns Acclaim; Climate Challenge meets Refranchising Process; Amman Valley Passenger Proposals; Carbon Reduction in Transport; The Very Model of a Modern Lightweight Railcar; PPM Bogie Patent Published; Environmental Traction R&D Agenda; Transmission Conundrum Solution; Depots for Lightweight Rolling Stock
1st December 2006
LIGHTWEIGHT RAIL RESPONDS TO CHALLENGES OF EDDINGTON AND STERN
In a press release issued jointly by PPML and JPM Parry & Associates Ltd, the need for lightweight rail to respond to the UK's transport and environmental needs is outlined following publication of the Eddington Transport Study and the Stern Review on Climate Change.
30th November 2006
PRESS RELEASE RECORDS CENTRO-WMPTA ACCLAIM FOR STOURBRIDGE OPERATION
PPML and its project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd have issued a joint press release in response to the announcement by Centro/West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority that it is urging companies bidding to run rail services in the West Midlands to adopt lightweight rail for the Stourbridge Town branch.  The press release also records the result of calculations showing that, compared to the heavy rail train, the PPM 50 railcar saves 80% of carbon dioxide emissions when used for the same service.  Details of all PPML press releases can be found on the Press Releases page in the Press Room.
29th November 2006
STOURBRIDGE TOWN BRANCH - SUNDAY SERVICES WILL OPERATE ON 10th AND 17th DECEMBER
Pre Metro Operations Ltd will operate Sunday rail services between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town to the normal timetable on 10th and 17th December 2006.  Reports that the operation will cease on 3rd December are incorrect.

28th November 2006

NETWORK RAIL CHIEF ENGINEER OUTLINES LOW-ENERGY RAILWAY OF THE FUTURE
Professor Andrew McNaughton, Chief Engineer of Network Rail has described the railway of the future in an address to the Railway Study Association (reproduced in the December 2006 issue of Modern Railways).  He emphasises the need for low vehicle weight, leading to a 'virtuous circle' of lower maintenance requirements of rolling stock and infrastructure.  This approach mirrors that of PPML - and Prof. McNaughton could be referring directly to PPM vehicles when he describes future urban rolling stock with five-tonne axleloads more resembling trams.  Excerpts from the address are included on the Industry Comment page.
28th November 2006 TRANSPORT AUTHORITY WANTS PPM SOLUTION FOR STOURBRIDGE
West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority and Centro have stated that they want franchise bidders to include PPM railcars on the Stourbridge Town branch in their plans to operate local services in the West Midlands. In a press release issued on 24th November, Centro confirmed that the one-year experimental operation on the branch had been a success, with passengers welcoming the service and near-perfect reliability.  Comments from Cllr Keith Chambers, the Lead Member for Rail, can be seen on the Political & Government Comment page.
NOTE: the Centro press release incorrectly states that Sunday services using the PPM 50 railcar end on 3rd December.  Pre Metro Operations Ltd will provide a public operation on Sundays 10th and 17th December to the normal timetable.
28th November 2006 NETWORK RAIL AWARDS ENGINEER FOR WORK ON PPM ACCEPTANCE
At Network Rail's annual staff awards ceremony, first prize in the 'Can Do, Will Do' category went to Neil Barnatt, the Head of Acceptance, for his work on securing acceptance for Pre Metro Operations Ltd to operate a PPM 50 railcar in public service on the Stourbridge Town branch.  This achievement means that pragmatic but safe ways for assessing innovation are available to test new ways of operating rail services.  The text from Network Rail's Aspects newsletter describing the prize is now on the Industry Comment page.
15th November 2006 TRANSPORT SECRETARY - 'THE ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES FOR RAIL'
In a speech to a Transport 200 conference on 14th November, the British Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP, described moves towards a low carbon economy as 'the greatest challenges and the greatest opportunities for the rail industry'.  Mr Alexander identified many aspects taken up in the PPM development, such as the need to reduce vehicle weight and for rail systems to be 'good neighbours' to people living nearby.  Excerpts from the Secretary of State's speech can be found on the Political & Government Comment page, while the way that PPM developments fit the environmental agenda are shown on the Technology page.
8th November 2006
STERN REVIEW ON CLIMATE CHANGE - THE NEED FOR LOW-CARBON TRANSPORT
The Stern Review on the economics of climate change identified the need for a response to the risks of global warming.  According to the review, 14% of global carbon dioxide emissions originate in transport and transport innovation is identified as a key element.  PPM technology, with lightweight vehicles incorporating energy storage and regenerative braking, is a clear example of low-carbon transport and offers a solution for the identified needs in developing countries where transport-related carbon dioxide emissions are growing.  Excerpts from the review relating to transport are now included on the Environmental Comment page.
8th November 2006
PATENT PENDING FOR PPM BOGIE
The patent application by PPM's technology licensors JPM Parry & Associates Ltd for a bogie flywheel system has been published as Specification GB 2425290 A.  Completion of the development of a PPM bogie will enable railcars and trams with capacity for up to around 200 passengers to be produced.
30th October 2006
TECHNICAL REVIEW OF STOURBRIDGE PERFORMANCE AVAILABLE ONLINE
The paper presented on 14th September to the Innovation In the Railways: Evolution or Revolution? seminar by Caspar Lucas (Technical Services Director of PPM's project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd) can be read on the website of the Institute of Engineering & TechnologyClick here to read the paper, which reviewed the performance of PPM technology in public service at Stourbridge between December 2005 and July 2006, as well as the history of the development.
28th October 2006
NOW ONLINE - PRESENTATION GIVEN TO LIQUID GAS INDUSTRY CONFERENCE
The slides from a presentation given by PPM's project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd to the conference of the Association of Liquid Gas Equipment Distributors is now available on the Publications & Presentations page.  Self-powered PPM railcars with hybrid drivelines using propane fuel and flywheel energy storage enable the quality of modern electric transport to be achieved without electrification, and present a new market for gas fuel and equipment suppliers.
28th October 2006
NOW ONLINE - PRESENTATION GIVEN TO ACoRP ROLLING STOCK CONFERENCE
The slides of the presentation given by PPM's project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd to the Rolling Stock Conference organised by the Association of Community Rail Partnerships and held in Darlington on 22nd September are now available on the Publications & Presentations page.
2th October 2006 STOURBRIDGE ENGINEERING AUTHORITY EXTENDED
On 19th September, Network Rail issued a revised Certificate of Authority to Pre Metro Operations Ltd, extending until 31st December 2007 the authorised period of operation of PPM 50 light railcar No. 999 900 on the Stourbridge Town branch.
2nd October 2006 LIGHTWEIGHT RAIL - MAJOR FEATURES IN PROFESSIONAL RAILWAY PRESS
Two significant publications have recently published feature articles concerning PPM's concepts for 'lightweighting' rail operation.  The October issue of Rail Professional includes an article entitled 'Small is Beautiful' by BBC Midlands transport correspondent Peter Plisner, which examines the new potential made possible following the experimental service at Stourbridge.  Meanwhile, the August-September edition of Railway Strategies carries a feature article by Caspar Lucas, Technical Services Director of PPM's project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd outlining the case for lightweight rail to take its place alongside other public transport modes.
21st September 2006 NETWORK RAIL AND LIGHTER ROLLING STOCK - PRESS RELEASE ISSUED
The aspiration by Network Rail to see lighter trains on community railways (see previous item) and its relevance to PPM developments has been recorded in a new joint press release from PPM and its project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd.  Website visitors can view all PPM press releases by going to the Press Room and clicking on PPM Press Releases.
21st September 2006
NETWORK RAIL LOOKS TO LIGHTER ROLLING STOCK FOR COMMUNITY RAILWAYS
Following the stated intention in its Initial Strategic Business Plan for Control Period 4, Britain's national railway infrastructure owner and operator Network Rail has given more detail about its desire to look at lighter rolling stock.  Quoted in the Financial Times on 19th September, deputy chief executive Iain Coucher explained: "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."  This approach matches PPM's concepts for lightweight, environmentally-friendly rail vehicles that do not cause damage to the track and cost less to operate, while providing a safe and attractive transport service - as demonstrated at Stourbridge since December 2005.  Excerpts from Mr Coucher's comments and the FT's report are now included on the Industry Comment and Media Comment pages respectively.
13th September 2006
NEW VIDEO CLIP - PPM ACCESSIBILITY
A new short film produced by h-arts shows the ease of access achieved by PPM lightweight rail technology, even when operating on the unmodified existing railway branch line at Stourbridge.  PPM vehicles' level access from platforms make public transport far more accessible for the mobility-impaired than most other modes.  To view the film, click here.  Video Archives can also be reached from the Press Room page.
12th September 2006 PPM'S AFRICAN POTENTIAL EXPLAINED
The September 2006 issue of the African Review of Business & Technology includes a feature showing the usefulness of PPM's developments to African cities.  Written by Caspar Lucas, Technical Services Director of PPM's project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd, the illustrated article explains how the technical approach taken by the PPM venture fits with the operating environment of the developing world, where urban transport needs are severe but 'western' solutions are inappropriate.  The use of automotive technology and standard components results in a system that can be maintained with skills and spare parts that are universally available.
29th August 2006
WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR 'LIGHTWEIGHTING' RAIL TRANSPORT
Recently-published comments have shown growing approval of PPM's concept of lightweight suburban rail for application in local transport situations.  Lord Tony Berkeley, an expert on railway matters and chairman of the Rail Freight Group, and Alan Williams, a respected rail commentator, have both written about PPM in the September issues of the Railway Magazine and Modern Railways respectively.  In addition, a local Stourbridge resident has written to PPM to describe the huge benefit in noise reduction compared with the diesel unit that operates the Stourbridge Town branch between Monday and Saturday.  Relevant extracts from all their comments can be seen on the Political & Government Comment page, the Media Comment page and the Passenger Comment page.

21st August 2006

ACoRP TO HEAR ABOUT LIGHTWEIGHT COMMUNITY RAIL
On 22nd September Caspar Lucas, Technical Services Director of PPM's project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd will address the Association of Community Rail Partnerships conference on Rolling Stock for Community Railways in Darlington, on the subject of how lightweight rail developments can bring benefits to local and rural railways.
14th August 2006 LIGHTWEIGHT RAIL PRESENTATIONS TO ICE AND IET
The potential for Lightweight Suburban Railways to revitalise local transport is to be discussed at two engineering institution events next month.  PPM's chairman John Parry will be speaking to the Institution of Civil Engineers in Norwich on 8th September at the ICE's Implementing Sustainable Transport conference.  On 14th September, Caspar Lucas - Technical Services Director of PPM's project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd - will make a presentation to a seminar entitled Innovation In the Railways: Evolution or Revolution? in Birmingham organised by the Institute of Engineering & Technology.
7th August 2006 STOURBRIDGE - FOUR MONTHS OF 100% RELIABILITY
Pre Metro Operations Ltd's Sunday services on the Stourbridge Town branch using PPM 50 Light Railcar No. 999 900 have achieved 100% reliability for four successive months from March to July.  In the same period, punctuality was 99.7%.
1st August 2006
DOWNLOADABLE PPM VIDEO CLIP NOW AVAILABLE
A video clip of the PPM 50 light railcar on the Stourbridge Town branch can now be downloaded from the Video Archive for broadband users.  Click on the top left thumbnail to run the h-arts film clip and show the download button.  Dial-up users can use this facility.  Video clip file size 4.22MB. Flash player required.
27th July 2006
Newsletter including: 'Lightweighting' - Acceptance Breakthrough; Merging the Themes; Transport Industry Recognises Value; VIPs Assess Stourbridge Service; The £1,600 Railway Platform; PPM at NRM; Revisiting Bewdley-Kidderminster; Potential in Cardiff; PPM for Keith & Dufftown; Richard Bowker Rejoins the Fray; Rubber Highway Suggests PPM Role; Exercising the PPM Supply Chain; Lightweight Construction for Rail Projects
19th July 2006
SENIOR RAIL OBSERVER COMMENDS PPM
Andrew Roden, Associate Editor of the International Railway Journal, has praised PPM as a cost-effective option for public transport that "deserves to succeed".  Mr Roden also singles out the lightweight PPM mode for future use on railway branch lines currently operated by Pacer railbus units.  His full quote is included on the Media Comment page.
10th July 2006
MORE SUPPORT FOR 'PARRY' APPROACH TO TRANSPORT
Two recently-published heavyweight comments lend further support to the PPM principle of 'lightweighting' - using the most appropriate engineering solutions both to reduce unnecessary cost and improve environmental performance.  The Rt Hon David Miliband MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, has clearly stated that transport is a field that must be involved in fighting climate change - see the Political & Government Comment page.  Meanwhile, the Economist magazine has analysed Network Rail's Initial Strategic Business Plan (see Industry Comment) and points out that high levels of subsidy for Britain's rural rail services arise from the use of mainline rail systems suited to much busier lines, while lightweight solutions would be more cost-effective and suited to the application.  Extracts from the Economist article can be seen on the Media Comment page.
7th July 2006
DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT AND NETWORK RAIL SET OUT 'LIGHTWEIGHTING' AGENDA
The Department for Transport and the national rail infrastructure company Network Rail have recently issued documents endorsing the Parry approach to the provision of local transport by lightweight rail.  PPM's technology licensors JPM Parry & Associates Ltd have issued a press release showing how its concepts, including the PPM venture, have been taken on board at national level.
6th July 2006
SHADOW TRANSPORT SECRETARY VISITS STOURBRIDGE
Chris Grayling MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, today visited Stourbridge to meet representatives of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority and Centro, and see for himself the potential of lightweight suburban railway technology to revitalise local transport.  Mr Grayling said that he had long considered that lighter forms of rail were more appropriate for railway branch lines and that he could see many potential applications across the UK.  Some of his comments are now included on the Political & Government Comment page.
The picture shows (from left to right) Chris Grayling MP, Robert Smith of Centro, Cllr Angus Adams, PPM chairman John Parry and Cllr Keith Chambers on board the PPM 50 railcar at Stourbridge Junction.
4th July 2006
NETWORK RAIL EMBRACES 'LIGHTWEIGHTING'
In its Initial Strategic Business Plan, the British rail infrastructure operator Network Rail looks ahead to the period 2009-2014 and includes a lightweighting agenda as championed by PPM for providing better services and better environmental performance.  The Plan identifies that "lighter trains can deliver improved acceleration and braking, reducing journey times between stations and using less energy" and Network Rail "will be undertaking work to understand how [the use of lighter trains] can be managed and to understand the changed risk profile".  The successful operation of a lightweight PPM 50 railcar on the Stourbridge Town branch since December 2005 provides some data for this work.The relevant excerpts from the Initial Strategic Business Plan can be seen on the Industry Comment page."
4th July 2006
PASSENGERS PRAISE STOURBRIDGE PPM
With Pre Metro Operations Ltd's service at Stourbridge now well established, Sunday passengers on the branch line have praised the PPM railcar and its operating staff.  A selection of their coments can be seen on the Passenger Comment page, part of the PPM Press Room.
3rd July 2006
TRANSPORT LIGHTWEIGHTING PRESENTED TO RAILFUTURE
The advantages of lightweight transport technology - including the PPM concept - were presented to the Railfuture summer campaigners' conference in Stoke-on-Trent on 1st July.  Caspar Lucas, Technical Services Director of PPM technology licensors and project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd, described the social, economic and environmental benefits to be gained from adopting the lightweight approach to transport, including vehicles, infrastructure and buildings.  Click here to view the presentation slides.

22nd June 2006

STOURBRIDGE SERVICE CONTINUES DURING ENGINEERING WORKS ON MAIN LINE
The Sunday service between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town, operated by Pre Metro Operations Ltd using a PPM 50 light railcar, is not affected by weekend engineering work on Central Trains' the Birmingham-Stourbridge Junction-Worcester route.  Buses will replace main line trains between Rowley Regis and Droitwich Spa for several Sundays starting 25th June (other alterations apply on Saturdays), but the PPM vehicle will continue to operate to the same timetable.
16th June 2006 DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT FOCUSES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
The UK's Department for Transport is refocusing on the impact of transport on the environment, according to senior sources.  Secretary of State for Transport Douglas Alexander is understood to want future transport funding decisions to be closely linked to environmental concerns.  Extracts from a report on this subject in Transport Times can be found on the Media Comment page, while excerpts from Mr Alexander's appointment brief from the Prime Minister are shown on the Political & Government Comment page.  PPM technology improves the environmental impact of transport by minimising the amount of energy required, and hence reducing emissions of noise, pollutants and carbon dioxide.
16th June 2006 FAQ AMENDED
In the Frequently Asked Questions section of this website, the response to the question “Why is PPM technology applied to rail vehicles?” has been expanded using an extract from an article in the latest edition of Local Transport Today to explain further the advantages of developing rail modes for local transport.
13th June 2006
SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGY JOURNAL FEATURES PPM HYBRID TECHNOLOGY
The June 2006 issue of the Environmental & Sustainable Technology Journal includes a two-page feature article on the subject of hybrid railways.  Authored by John Parry and Caspar Lucas of PPM's technology licensors JPM Parry & Associates Ltd, it identifies the benefits of lightweight suburban railway technology to both the environment and society.  Also mentioned is a new community interest company being set up to provide lightweight railcars for lease to rail operators.
8th June 2006 PPM IDENTIFIED BY DfT IN WEST MIDLANDS FRANCHISE DOCUMENT
The West Midlands Franchise Consultation, published today by the Department for Transport, singles out PPM technology for potential wider use. Section 5 of the document, which provides guidance on the Department's intentions for the new franchise, notes that "costs are high and it is possible that alternative options for providing a rail-based service would represent better value for money ... Light rail solutions such as [PPM] could represent a way forward for the route." The full paragraph devoted to the Stourbridge Town branch is quoted on the Political & Government Comment page.
2nd June 2006
LIGHT RAIL APPROACHES RECOMMENDED FOR COMMUNITY RAILWAYS
In an article in the Railway Strategies journal for April-May 2006, leading rail consultant D Scott Hellewell (formerly operations director for Manchester Metrolink) makes a strong case for the application of light rail philosophies and technology to Community Railways.  This argument reflects the concept of Lightweight Suburban Railways, where non-electrified railcars and associated service improvements can revitalise local rail routes.  An excerpt from Mr Hellewell's article can be read on the Media Comment page, while PPM's technology licensors JPM Parry & Associates Ltd explain the lightweight concept in the pamphlet Lightweight Suburban Railways.
30th May 2006 STOURBRIDGE - 100% RELIABILITY & 99.44% PUNCTUALITY OVER THREE MONTHS
Every single timetabled service was run on the Stourbridge Town branch Sunday operation during March, April and May - and just six out of 1,066 public services ran late.  Additionally, over 5,000 passenger journeys have now been made.  A joint press release has been released by PPM and Pre Metro Operations Ltd.  Click here for timetable and ticket information.
27th May 2006 PPM 35 RAILBUS ON DISPLAY AT NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM
From Saturday 27th May until Sunday 4th June the newly-refurbished PPM 35 electric railbus, previously operated in Bristol and owned by Sustraco, will be on static display at 'Green Railways' - a special event held at the National Railway Museum in York to mark the link between rail systems and the environment and highlighting environmentally-friendly forms of rail technology.
22nd May 2006
LIGHTWEIGHT SUBURBAN RAILWAYS DESCRIBED IN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL
The June 2006 issue of Tramways & Urban Transit, the international light rail magazine from the Light Rail Transit Association features a special three-page feature entitled "Lightweight Suburban Rail: The future's bright... and it'll be varied".  The article - by Caspar Lucas, Technical Services Director of PPM's technology licensors JPM Parry & Associates Ltd - describes the potential of PPM-style rail to transform local transport in the UK and abroad, and outlines why technological change is required.  Details of all press references to PPM are given on the Media Coverage page.
19th May 2006
PPM 35 ARRIVES AT YORK FOR EXHIBITION AT 'GREEN RAILWAYS'
On 18th May, the PPM 35 Railbus owned by Sustraco was delivered to the National Railway Museum in York.  The railbus will feature in the museum's 'Green Railways' event from 27th May to 4th June, showing how lightweight rail technology can improve both transport's environmental performance and people's quality of life.
19th May 2006
RAILWAY MODELLER LAUNCHES 'BUILD A PPM 50' COMPETITION
Now available, the June issue of Railway Modeller launches a competition to build a model version of the PPM 50 Light Railcar now in service at Stourbridge.  The magazine includes drawings and photos of the prototype, and a comprehensive history and description of the PPM project.  Prizes include a family ticket to Pecorama to every entrant, tickets to the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition for those shortlisted, a year's subscription to Railway Modeller for the winner and runners-up, and a visit to PPM's headquarters hosted by Chairman John Parry for the winner.

15th May 2006

PPM TO FEATURE AT NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM 'GREEN RAILWAYS' EVENT
PPM technology will feature at a major event to be held at the National Railway Museum from 27th May to 4th June.  PPM 35 Railbus No. 238, owned by Sustraco and refurbished by JPM Parry & Associates Ltd, will demonstrate the environmental benefits to be gained by lightweight railways in urban, suburban and rural situations.  On each day of the event there will be two expert talks on the Railbus and visitors will have the opportunity to go inside the vehicle and find out more about it.
1st May 2006
CHRIS GREEN ON COMMUNITY RAIL - "RADICAL SOLUTIONS ARE KEY"
The Association of Community Rail Partnerships held its conference on the Community Rail Development Strategy in Huddersfield on 24th March.  Among the speakers was Chris Green, chairman of the Railway Forum and one of Britain's most respected railwaymen, whose proposals for reinvigorating local railways include appropriate "tram standards" for signalling, level crossings and fencing - close to the PPM concept of lightweight surburban railways and their urban and rural equivalents.  An excerpt from ACoRP's report on the conference is included on the Industry Comment page.
1st May 2006
CASE STUDIES IN LIGHTWEIGHT RAIL PRACTICE
PPM's project managers and technology licensors JPM Parry & Associates Ltd have made available a series of case studies illustrating the variety of work the firm has undertaken in the transport field.  The case studies can be accessed by going to www.parryassociates.com/transport or directly by clicking below:
Printable pdf versions are also available via the above links.
24th April 2006
RAILWAY MODELLER AND PPM - LOOKING FOR MINIATURE LIGHT RAILCARS
PPM has joined forces with Railway Modeller magazine to launch a competition for miniature versions of the PPM 50 Light Railcar now in Sunday passenger service at Stourbridge.  Full details of conditions and prizes for the modelling contest will be in the magazine's June edition, to be published on Thursday 18th May.  Budding entrants may like to start by looking at the Photo Archive and the PPM 50 technical specification - or by visiting the Stourbridge Town branch on a Sunday: click here for service details!
14th April 2006

Chris Green (foreground, left) with John Parry at Stourbridge Junction.
"THE TECHNICAL BREAKTHROUGH WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR" - CHRIS GREEN ON PPM
One of the UK's most senior and respected railwaymen has praised PPM's potential for local transport.  The career of Chris Green, currently Chairman of the Railway Forum and a non-executive director of Network Rail, has included top positions in Virgin Rail Group, InterCity, Network SouthEast and ScotRail.  After a visit to Stourbridge on 7th April, Mr Green said of PPM: "We ignore this opportunity at our peril".  The full quote can be seen on the Industry Comment page. A joint press release from PPM and JPM Parry & Associates Ltd has also been issued
12th April 2006 STOURBRIDGE LIGHTWEIGHT RAIL PERFORMANCE EXCEEDS 98%
Pre Metro Operations Ltd, the operator of the Sunday passenger service on the Stourbridge Town branch using a PPM 50 railcar, yesterday announced its reliability and punctuality figures since passengers were first carried on 11th December 2005.  Over 1,200 trips in public service have been operated and the results clearly indicate the benefits of simplicity in rail operation.  Notably, since the start of March 100% of timetabled journeys have run and 99.4% have been punctual.  Click here to read PMOL's public announcement.
10th April 2006
PPM 35 RAILBUS RETURNS FOR RESTORATION TO SERVICEABLE CONDITION
The tenth PPM vehicle constructed, PPM 35 Railbus No. 238, has returned to the Cradley Heath workshops to be brought back to operational standard.  The low-floor vehicle, which is owned by Bristol Electric Railbus, ran on the Bristol Harbourside railway between 1998 and 2000, carrying over 50,000 passengers.
5th April 2006
STOURBRIDGE SERVICE NOW SHOWN ON RAIL ENQUIRIES SYSTEMS
Details of the Sunday service between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town stations, run by Pre Metro Operations Ltd using a PPM 50 Light Railcar, are now available from public enquiry services including National Rail Enquiries (online and by telephone), QJump and TheTrainLine.
5th April 2006 IMPROVED MAPS OF PROPOSED PPM SYSTEMS
More information and better navigation is now available to visitors to the online maps of proposed PPM transport systems in the UK.  Links are now provided between the four regional maps, while references to press mentions or full-scale demonstrations of the various schemes are being added.  The popularity of plans for lightweight rail transport is remarkable - and with PPM technology now carrying passengers on a branch of the British national rail network, the prospects for converting proposals into reality have never been better.
31st March 2006 PRE METRO OPERATIONS BIDS TO LINK OSWESTRY TO MAIN LINE
Pre Metro Operations Ltd yesterday announced that it had formally expressed its interest in operating passenger rail services between Oswestry and Gobowen in Shropshire.  Following the invitation issued in February by Shropshire County Council, PMOL responded with a proposal for providing a fast, frequent service using PPM railcars on the currently intact but unused former Cambrian line.  Click here to read PMOL's public announcement.
28th March 2006 PPM MEDIA COVERAGE - 50 MENTIONS SINCE START OF STOURBRIDGE SERVICE
Since Pre Metro Operations Ltd carried its first fare-paying passengers on a PPM 50 railcar at Stourbridge on 11th December, media outlets have featured PPM on average nearly once every two days.  With an article in The Journal, a newspaper in north-east England, the total has now reached fifty - see the Media Coverage page for details.  The Stourbridge service has featured in newspapers and magazines, on television and radio, in mainstream and specialist-interest titles.  With PPM technology having operated in public service for over three months, the media are looking at other locations where it could be adopted, such as Alnwick, Cardiff Bay and Newcastle.  An editorial, "Let the Good Times Roll", from The Journal is reproduced on the Media Comment page.
24th March 2006
"DELIGHTED" LORDS TRANSPORT CAMPAIGNER PRAISES "IMPRESSIVE" PPM
On 19th March Stourbridge hosted a visit from Lord Faulkner of Worcester, a former railwayman of 20 years' experience who is now treasurer of the All-Party Parliamentary Rail Group and chairman of the Railway Heritage Committee.  The PPM 50 Light Railcar in use at Stourbridge "is an impressive vehicle, which could provide a popular, cost-effective public transport solution in rural areas and conurbations," he said. 
The picture shows Lord Faulkner (right) speaking to PPM's projects manager Caspar Lucas at Stourbridge Town station.  Lord Faulkner's comments following his visit can be seen on the Political Comment page.
19th March 2006
A THOUSAND MILES AT STOURBRIDGE
The Stourbridge Town branch is the shortest route on Britain's national rail network, but with a fifteen-minute frequency in both directions the miles build up.  PPM 50 Light Railcar No. 999 900 has now run over 1,000 miles on the branch line in testing, crew training and passenger service.  For Sunday service timetable and fare details, click here.
16th March 2006 LIGHTWEIGHT STRUCTURES FOR RAILWAYS AND TRAMWAYS
With lightweight PPM rail vehicles making it possible to introduce attractive rail transport, the firm's technology licensors JPM Parry & Associates Ltd now offer a solution for time-, cost- and material-saving construction for rail use.  Lightweight methods for building structures such as platforms and maintenance accommodation are based on Parry Associates' successful overseas building materials products and have already been implemented at Stourbridge.  A new press release about the building system has been issued.  Further information on Parry Associates' transport technical services are described on www.parryassociates.com/transport
6th March 2006
2,500 PASSENGER JOURNEYS MADE ON STOURBRIDGE SERVICE
On 5th March 2006, the 2,500th passenger journey by PPM Light Railcar was made on the Stourbridge Town branch.  A new joint press release has been issued by PPM and Pre Metro Operations Ltd to mark this achievement.  Details of all PPM media announcements can be seen on the Press Releases page.
27th February 2006
PPM PRESENTATION TO BRTA 2006 CONFERENCE
John Parry, Chairman of PPM, will give a presentation to the 2006 conference of the Bedfordshire Railway & Transport Association.  The conference, on the subject of community railways, will be held on Saturday 22nd April at Aspley Guise in Bedfordshire.  Click here for full details.
27th February 2006
NETWORK RAIL RECORDS ITS ROLE IN STOURBRIDGE OPERATION
The February 2006 issue of ASPECTS, Network Rail's in-house staff magazine, includes an article detailing the approach taken by the national rail infrastructure company to introduce innovation on to the network at Stourbridge.  Titled "Flexible solution for unique transport experiment", the article quotes Bernard Hulland - NR's principal contact for the project - on how the lightweight PPM 50 railcar was approved for operation.  The complete article can be read in the Industry Comment page.
23rd February 2006
STOURBRIDGE OPERATION - MP's LAUNCH SPEECH NOW AVAILABLE
Details of the speech made by Lynda Waltho MP, Member of Parliament for Stourbridge, at the official launch of the Stourbridge service are now included on this site.  Mrs Waltho spoke of "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".  Excerpts from the speech can be found on the Political Comment page, while the full speech can be seen by clicking here.
23rd February 2006
Newsletter including: Historic Launch of PPM at Stourbridge; Snapshots of the Launch Day; Warm Welcome from the Media; Quest for the next 'Stourbridges'; Ffestiniog Railway Interest in PPM Railcar; Wensleydale Railway makes Progress; Walsall & Brownhills Dismay at Bus Proposal; Organisation Changes Recognise Project Management Role; Railway Platform Built in a Week; Lightweight Rail Possibilities
22nd February 2006
IMECHE MAGAZINE FEATURES PPM IN MAJOR ARTICLE
The 22nd February edition of Professional Engineering, the magazine of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, includes a feature article on PPM technology, its environmental advantages and the potential for lightweight rail to provide solutions to transport problems.  Following a visit, Assistant Editor Justin Cunningham picks out the PPM 50 railcar's low noise emissions for praise, comparing its "apparent silence" with being "almost deafened by the roar from the diesel engines" of main line trains at Stourbridge Junction.  Excerpts from the article can be seen on the Media Comment page.  Details of all known media reports about PPM are shown on the Media Coverage page.
21st February 2006
PARRY ASSOCIATES' TRANSPORT TECHNICAL SERVICES
PPM's technology licensors JPM Parry & Associates Ltd have appointed Caspar Lucas as Technical Services Director to develop the firm's business as a specialist supplier of professional services and advice on new transport technology.  Parry Associates have gained unique experience in the continuing role as project managers of the PPM venture.  Further information can be found at www.parryassociates.com/transport.
21st February 2006
PARRY ASSOCIATES ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF TECHNICAL SERVICES DIRECTOR
PPM's technology licensors and project managers JPM Parry & Associates Ltd have issued a press release following the appointment of a new Technical Services Director to develop business based on the company's experience in the introduction of transport innovation.
6th February 2006
STOURBRIDGE SERVICE OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED
Operation of PPM 50 Light Railcar No. 999 900 by Pre Metro Operations Ltd was given a formal send-off on Sunday 5th, when Stourbridge MP Lynda Waltho (pictured, with flag) and Rob Donald, Director General of Centro officially launched the public service at a ceremony at Stourbridge Junction.  Several dozen guests, including representatives of local government, the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority, the rail industry and central government heard speeches from Mr Donald, Mrs Waltho and PPM's chairman John Parry.  A press release has been issued to mark the event.
6th February 2006 FoE RECOGNITION OF LIGHTWEIGHT RAIL'S BENEFITS FOR PEOPLE AND ENVIRONMENT
The February-March '06 edition of the Birmingham Friends of the Earth newsletter contains a review of the possibilities opened up by lightweight rail technology (see Parry Associates' pamphlet Lightweight Suburban Railways).  Author Matthew Albery concludes that "the methods of operating the Parry People Mover are where communities benefit most highly", pointing out how lightweight systems are able to provide transport services that people really need.  Excerpts from the article, which highlights both the environmental and social benefits of new rail technology, have been added to the Media Comment page.
2nd February 2006
STOURBRIDGE MP EXTOLS "ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY LIGHT RAIL TRANSPORT"
Lynda Waltho, the Member of Parliament for Stourbridge, has spoken of her "great pleasure" at being involved in the official launch of PPM services, run by Pre Metro Operations Ltd, on the Stourbridge Town branch line.  Speaking to the regional Express & Star newspaper, she praised "this fine example of environmentally friendly light rail transport" and its potential for developing the town into the future.  The full quote can be seen on the Political Comment page.
1st February 2006
OFFICIAL LAUNCH AT STOURBRIDGE ANNOUNCED BY CENTRO/WMPTA
In a news release on 31st January, Centro (the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive) announced the official launch of PPM services, operated by Pre Metro Operations Ltd to be held on Sunday 5th February with Stourbridge MP Lynda Waltho and Centro's Director General Rob Donald officiating.  A statement from Cllr Gary Clarke, Chairman of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority, which can now be seen on the Political Comment page, confirms the PTA's positive view of innovation in public transport.
31st January 2006 RETAINING AND REOPENING RAIL LINKS - THE POSITIVE WAY AHEAD
With JPM Parry & Associates Ltd, its technology licensors, PPM has issued a joint press release following publication of the UK Government's consultation on railway closure processes.  The document specifically refers to the need to examine all options, including "reducing the cost of the service by using shorter or lighter trains" before analysing a proposed closure, and even includes a worked example exploring the option of applying "community rail partnership" to a route, a concept which can be combined with PPM lightweight rail technology to revolutionise local transport services.
30th January 2006 THOUSANDTH PASSENGER JOURNEY MADE ON STOURBRIDGE PPM SERVICE
A local three-year old made the 1,000th trip on the PPM 50 Light Railcar between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town stations on Sunday 29th January - the sixth day of passenger running by Pre Metro Operations Ltd.  The boy and his mother only took the trip on the 10.00 railcar service because they had just missed their main line train from Stourbridge Junction and had some extra time before the next one.  PPM Chairman John Parry was on hand to present the lucky lad with a box of chocolates.  A press release has been issued to mark the occasion.
27th January 2006
"QUIET, LOW-EMISSION, RELIABLE, ECONOMIC" - RAILWAY'S VERDICT ON PPM
In November 2005, Wensleydale Railway plc reported to North Yorkshire County Council on the demonstration operation the previous September between Northallerton and Leeming Bar.  The council had provided assistance with the connecting bus link to Northallerton station and town centre, as the necessary rail connection was removed decades ago.  The railway praised the PPM 50 railcar's performance and its "quiet, low-emission, reliable, economic" operation, as well as the advantages in terms of acquisition costs, and operating arrangements - looking forward to a larger design to suit the WR's long-term requirement.  The relevant extract from the report can be seen on Industry Comment.
27th January 2006
LIGHTWEIGHT SUBURBAN RAILWAYS - THE INTERMEDIATE MODE
PPM's licensors JPM Parry & Associates Ltd have produced a new pamphlet entitled Lightweight Suburban Railways, describing an innovative approach to the provision of local transport services.  Self-powered, lightweight rail vehicles present themselves as a means of implementing quality public transport on corridors where passenger rail links no longer exist, with benefits in terms of congestion and environmental impact.  The pamphlet shows how this "intermediate mode" combines the best features of buses, trains and transport into an attractive and affordable option, and lists potential applications.  It has been added to both the Brochures & Leaflets and Community Transport pages.
25th January 2006
MEDIA INTEREST GROWS AS STOURBRIDGE SERVICES START
The start of passenger operations using a PPM 50 light railcar on Network Rail's Stourbridge Town branch has generated a flurry of coverage in the media.  Specialist transport publications as well as the general press and broadcast media have shown great interest in the introduction of new rail technology, run by Pre Metro Operations Ltd, while on the internet a number of chatrooms have already started talking about the service.  Details known by PPM are shown on the Media Coverage page, which is regularly updated.
17th January 2006
NETWORK RAIL CONFIRMS SUPPORT FOR INNOVATION
Following the start of PPM public operation on the Stourbridge Town branch, Network Rail has made clear its position regarding innovative approaches to rail services.  In a public statement, a spokesman said "We are supportive of any new transport technology which could address passenger demand and reduce the cost of running the railway."  The full statement, which is fully in line with PPM's developments, can be seen on the Industry Comment page.
16th January 2006 CLASS 999 LIGHT RAILCAR - VEHICLE REGISTRATION CONFIRMED
PPM has received confirmation of the final completion of the vehicle acceptance process for PPM 50 Light Railcar No. 999 900, now operating the Sunday service on the Stourbridge Town branch in the West Midlands.  The railcar is fully registered on the Rolling Stock Library database and interfaced with the TOPS vehicle records system.
16th January 2006
IMPROVED LINKS TO HELP WEBSITE VISITORS
More links between pages on the PPM website have been added.  Direct links between the Passenger Comment, Industry Comment, Political Comment and Media Comment pages now make navigation easier, while links between the Community Transport, Technology and Products pages which emphasise how PPM designs assist transport improvement.  Additional links have also been added to some FAQs.
13th January 2006
PASSENGERS LOVE THE STOURBRIDGE RAILCAR!
The Sunday operation of a PPM 50 Light Railcar between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town has already captured the hearts of local people.  Pre Metro Operations Ltd staff were delighted to receive not only a written thank-you note but also a gift of chocolate bars from two young passengers on 8th January - the first day of full-day service.  Their words have been added to the Passenger Comment page.  The railcar has already attracted a loyal following from users appreciative of its clean, green, quiet technology.  Young children are among the most enthusiastic, enjoying the all-round visibility which opens up new views of the Stourbridge Town branch.
9th January 2006
STOURBRIDGE - SUCCESSFUL START OF ALL-DAY SUNDAY PASSENGER SERVICES
Sunday 8th January 2006 saw the first full day passenger rail service between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town since 1915.  Pre Metro Operations Ltd  is running PPM 50 Light Railcar No. 999 900 on Sundays, supported by funding from Centro(the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive) and the former Strategic Rail Authority's community rail budget.  PMOL railcar services connect with Central Trains at Stourbridge Junction and local bus services at Stourbridge Town, as well as serving the residential areas near both stations. Click here for the Stourbridge Sunday timetable.
9th January 2006
PPM APPROVALS EXPLAINED
The latest addition to the Frequently Asked Questions page explains how approvals have been obtained for operation in public service.  The new FAQ explains the general background and gives information on the preparatory stages for passenger operations on the Wensleydale Railway (in September 2005) and on the Stourbridge Town branch of Network Rail, including full details of the process leading to the start of services at Stourbridge.
3rd January 2006 FULL DAY STOURBRIDGE SERVICE STARTS ON 8th JANUARY
Following successful introductory service on 11th and 18th December 2005, Pre Metro Operations Ltd will operate all day on the Stourbridge Town branch using a Class 999 PPM 50 Light Railcar every Sunday from 8th January.
Railcar services will depart Stourbridge Junction at 09.36, 10.00, 10.20 and then every 15 minutes until 20.05
Return services will depart Stourbridge Town at 09.41, 10,10, 10.25 and then every 15 minutes until 19.55
Tickets, including an unlimited PMOL Day Ticket at £2, can be purchased on board the railcar.  Valid rail tickets and travel passes are accepted.  Tickets to other stations on the national rail network must be purchased from the ticket office at Stourbridge Junction.

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