The Transport Minister Jesse Norman MP recently visited Pre Metro Operations’ Stourbridge Shuttle service in the Black Country to see for himself the award-winning innovative operation.
Celebrating its 10th year of operation, the award-winning service – operated by Pre Metro Operations Ltd [PMOL] in partnership with West Midlands Railway – is an established part of the local transport system – and amongst the most reliable rail operations in the UK. Operating over 5400 journeys every month, the Shuttle has a reliability level of around 99.7%. It has been twice recognised in the last three years at the Global Light Rail Awards, receiving Highly Commended and runners-up achievements.
As part of the visit the Minister and officials travelled with local college students on the Shuttle and was pleasantly surprised by the number of passengers and the features of the eco-friendly service. In discussions with PMOL staff at Stourbridge the costs and benefits of the operation were emphasised and as such the service was presented as a viable option to operate in other locations, either as a new facility, or replacement for existing operations.
During the visit, the Minister received a presentation from Beverley Nielsen, Chair of Ultra Light Rail Partners, who explained the potential for Ultra Light Rail operations in other parts of the UK, based on the successful Stourbridge operation. The Government is currently consulting on the future of light rail schemes, and Pre Metro Operations is contributing its own proposal and experience, with plans to bring similar operations to branch lines and local communities in other parts of the country as well as a service from Stourbridge to Brierley Hill.
Steve Jasper, Pre Metro Operations Director said;
“It was great to welcome The Minister of State for Transport Jesse Norman MP to Stourbridge to see our Ultra Light Rail achievements. In particularly, we are proud of our industry-leading reliability and punctuality, exponential passenger growth and a halving in operational costs, compared to the traditional heavy rail operation that existed here before. We believe there is a compelling case for this type of operation to be successful in other parts of the UK”
Since the visit, a mini reshuffle has taken place within Government, and Jesse Norman MP has moved to a new role as Financial Secretary to the Treasury. His role as Minister of State for Transport has been taken up by Michael Ellis MP.