Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Ye of little faith

Alas, technical issues have forced the four-week trial on the Mid-Hants Railway has had to be put back a week, with it now due to start on the 31st January. The PPM50 vehicle (formerly 999 900), having been delivered, requires a significant degree of testing before it can be entered into public service. This is only prudent as it has undergone a major rebuild and has not had significant use since it left the Stourbridge line. It was also the case that the pair of Class 139 units also suffered teething problems before their entry into full passenger service, problems that were rectified and have led to a 99.5% fleet reliability rate. Given GOCO’s plan to apply to run the service later in the year (assuming the trial is successful), then there would be time to iron out any technical difficulties before the full service begins. This is a real attempt to get a return to genuine commuter rail travel to places that would likely appreciate it as they could abandon their cars and use the train all the way (well, most of the way). And yet, as I read things, I can’t help but feel a sense of almost snobbery at the idea of using the technology espoused by Parry People Movers Ltd. Any publicity about something going wrong, or not working in the way it should, or (heaven forfend) needing a little extra time to make it work, and it is jumped on by people all over the Web, using blogs, and message boards, and Twitter to make fun, simply because the vehicles that would be used are not “conventional”. Bring on the unconventional, say I, because that’s where innovation comes from:

…as a result of the investment in hybrid traction, braking energy recovery and lightweighting of chassis and coachwork – a concept has emerged which greatly lowers the threshold of costs of operating short line railways. Every feasibility study which runs up against doubts over commercial viability doing the job conventionally with heavy rail technology can now consider a more affordable option.
John Parry, Chairman Parry People Movers Ltd

How many people are there, living in towns where the National Rail network has long since left them but where a railway still exists, whether it is a heritage line, or a short freight only route, or even a long since abandoned piece of infrastructure that could be resurrected, that would welcome the chance to use the train as a link between where they live and the railway network? Indeed, how many heritage lines are extending their own routes so that they meet a train operator? Perhaps it’s best to leave the last word to John Parry.

“GOCO Mid-Hants Link trial set for action”
“Environmentally-friendly Stourbridge railcar scores 99.5% reliability in 2010”

Despite teething troubles, let's get behind the lightweight concept, as it could well be the resurrection of those areas that were lost after Beeching


One Response

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  1. Anon said, on 21 January 2011 at 3:18 am

    Its not snobbery, its realism and past experience. PPM’s have been trialed again and again without success because the technology is fundamentally ill-suited to virtually every line they’ve taken it – the small engine/flywheel design is great for low speed, very short distance operations but they are few and far between – Alton-M4M is asking a lot of the small engine IMO.

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