News

Adopting for the New Normal

The Railway World has had to adapt quickly and innovate in order to maintain services for key workers in the era of Coronavirus. For Stourbridge Shuttle operators Pre Metro Operations, the added unique design of the Class 139 Railcars has been an additional challenge.

The Shuttle vehicles nominally seat 21 passengers, and with standees can accommodate up to 50 per journey. Social distancing is a major hurdle for public transport users and operators to address, and for the Stourbridge Shuttle operation – which is often based on full capacity at peak times – a complete rethink has been required.

Whilst demand initially shrank by around 90%, the issue of accommodating users and crew in the relatively small confines of the vehicle has been rapidly addressed by our Head of Operations Andrew Merrell.

The “open cab” design of the class 139 Light Railcar is unique on the UK rail network, but is obviously a major issue for crews operating the vehicle. Working swiftly with PMOL’s Engineering Team and local suppliers, an effective sliding partition door has been fitted. This is made of clear Perspex in order to maintain the “open feel” of the railcar.

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Staff themselves are issued with standard face masks and also a full-face visor. Ticket checks have been suspended to reduce contact and maintain social distancing.

Users are limited to 8 per journey, although the initial reduction to 4 journeys per hour upon the start of lockdown has been restored to the normal 6, albeit with breaks in service to allow for deep cleaning of the vehicle and statutory crew breaks. Users are being reminded of these changes by large posters on the vehicle, and via the website and social media updates. Seating arrangements have been revised, with notices advising users that some seats are taken out of service to maintain social distancing.

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Pre Metro’s Head of Operations Andrew Merrell said;

“We’ve had to move quickly to adapt our unique vehicles in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and we think these are effective measures. With certain lockdown measures being slowly lifted, we alongside other rail operators have increased our services to meet demand. We will monitor very closely in the coming days and weeks how our service is performing. Our intention is to return to our normal operation – including our late night services – as and when appropriate”.

20/03/20

Shuttle Completes More Industry-Leading Reliability

Pre Metro Operations have recorded another industry-leading set of results for reliability on the Stourbridge branch line, during the month of February 2020.

During the reporting period (02-29 February 2020) the service operated its entire scheduled service (5480 journeys) with 100% reliability, despite the time period including some of the worst storms seen in the UK for many years.

Pre Metro Operations Director Steve Jasper said;

“It is once again a tribute to our staff that we managed yet another perfect score. Our service is an essential link between Stourbridge town centre and main line rail operations and is relied upon daily by thousands of users. During the stormy weather, we did have an obstruction on our line, but this was quickly dealt with by our onboard crew. Our entire team work hard behind the scenes to achieve these industry-leading reliability figures in order to keep our passengers moving”.

The most recent 100% score was the sixth time in the last twelve reporting periods that the operation achieved the highest score.

To view recent operational performance for the Stourbridge Shuttle, please visit:

https://premetro.co.uk/statistics/

New Stourbridge – Brierley Hill Rail Route Moves Step Closer

Stourbridge – Brierley Line map

20/02/20
A new ultra light rail route proposed to operate between Stourbridge and Brierley Hill has moved a step closer following an investigation of the route by Stourbridge Shuttle operators Pre Metro Operations.

The route, which still sees freight trains operating several times per week, has not seen passengers carried since July 1962, when British Rail decided to sever the link between Stourbridge and Dudley.

Pre Metro Operations is proposing to reopen the line using innovative environmentally-friendly railcars to provide a service from Stourbridge Junction to Canal Street in Brierley Hill, which will integrate with the forthcoming West Midlands Metro extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill via Dudley. Proposed stops along the line from Stourbridge include Vicarage Road, Brettell Lane, Station Road (for Brierley Hill), The Waterfront and Canal Street for West Midlands Metro Interchange and potential Park & Ride facilities.

A recent investigation of the line was undertaken by Pre Metro Operations, Rail Operations Group, Network Rail and the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education at Birmingham University.

Chairman of Pre Metro Operations Geoff Lusher said;
“The success of our light rail operation at Stourbridge proves that we can run a highly reliable, environmentally friendly, cost effective service. The Stourbridge Shuttle has reduced emissions, doubled patronage and halved operating costs over the 10 years that we’ve operated it, and our current reliability figures are 99.8%. We believe that this model of operation can be a success in other parts of the country, as traffic congestion and air pollution concerns continue to rise up the agenda. We are particularly interested in the work being done by our friends at BCRRE on the HydroFLEX project and the environmental benefits this would bring. The proposal to reopen the Stourbridge to Brierley Hill rail route to passengers will offer new travel opportunities, linking into high quality Metro and National Rail services.”

Stourbridge Viaduct (looking South)

Brierly Hill (looking WSW)

Brierly Hill Station Site

News archive

Work in progress

Pre Metro Welcomes Project Support from UoB

June 19, 2018

Pre Metro Operations has welcomed support from UoB (University of Birmingham) as part of the development of low-carbon propulsion systems.

Several industry stakeholders, including Parry People Movers and Pre Metro Operations Ltd are collaborating with UoB on a report that looks at future developments such as CNG and H2 Fuel Cell technologies. The stakeholders are also investigating the future of light rail infrastructure such as simple rail & sleeper designs to the latest modular slab concept.

Pre Metro Operations Chief Executive Phil Evans said;

“We are pleased to be working with our partners in the development of light rail systems. Our Stourbridge Shuttle operation has been running since 2009 and we have amassed a huge amount of experience in operating our intensive service using innovative technology”.

New Oswestry Hospital Light Rail Link Planned

May 13, 2018

Pre Metro Operations are the preferred operator for a new £1m Light Rail link, running between Oswestry Orthopaedic Hospital and Gobowen railway station.

The plans have been revealed by the Cambrian Heritage Railway Group, which has a longer-term ambition to reopen the line between Oswestry and Gobowen.

Speaking to Shropshire Weekly, Roger Date from the group said;

“The tram will be a model for the future…by the time passengers have sat down it will be time to get off again – and it will be a shuttle so it will keep going backwards and forwards”.

The journey is around 1.5 miles between the Hospital and Gobowen station, and takes around 25 minutes to walk.

The plans have also been welcomed by local Councillors and the Hospital. Speaking to the Oswestry & Border Chronicle, Councillor Mark Jones said;

“It is a very interesting idea, and there are certainly hundreds of staff, patients and visitors who travel to the hospital in cars and taxis every day”.

Mark Brandreth, the Hospital’s Chief Executive, said;

“Patients, visitors and staff come to RJAH (Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital) from far and wide, many relying on the train station to get here, and this would certainly make their lives easier”.

Pre Metro Shortlisted at Rail Awards Ceremony

May 13, 2018

Pre Metro Operations was recently shortlisted in the “Operator of the Year” category of the UK Rail Industry Awards 2018 for it’s Stourbridge Shuttle operation.

The event was held at Battersea Evolution in London and was attended by UK rail operators, infrastructure partners and suppliers.

We eventually finished as runners-up to Chiltern Railways, in what was our first attempt to win a “heavy” rail industry award. Pre Metro Operations has twice won “highly commended” at the Light Rail Awards, which features tramway and light railway operators, for the Stourbridge Shuttle operation.

Stourbridge Shuttle Highly Commended at Industry “Oscars”

Phil & DebbieOctober 6, 2016

The company that operates the popular Stourbridge Shuttle has been recognised at a global award ceremony in London.

Pre Metro Operations – who operate the Shuttle in partnership with London Midland – was Highly Commended in the Operator of the Year category at the Global Light Rail Awards, coming second only to Manchester’s Metrolink tram network.

The event, which took place at the Honourable Artillery Company, saw over 200 representatives from the Light Rail industry around the World gather to honour excellence and innovation.

Judges were particularly impressed with The Stourbridge Shuttle’s industry-leading reliability, continual growth during its 7-year operation on the Stourbridge branch line, and its customer-focused staff.

Pre Metro Operations Director Steve Jasper said;

“We are obviously very pleased to be recognised in this way for the success of our Stourbridge Shuttle operation, especially in the face of such strong opposition from around the globe. Our staff do us proud, serving our local travelling public every day”.

  • The Light Rail Awards are in their 11th year, and are organised by Mainspring.
  • The most recent reporting period for reliability (2015/16) shows reliability on the Stourbridge Shuttle operation at 99.7%. In 16 of the 4-weekly reporting periods since 2009, the figure has been 100%.
  • Pre Metro Operations has operated the Stourbridge Shuttle since 2009, following earlier trials. It uses innovative flywheel-powered railcars, which are environmentally-friendly.
  • More details are available on our website premetro.co.uk and via our social media pages: Facebook.com/stourbridgeshuttle & Twitter.com/sbridgeshuttle

Go Green to Kinver Country Fayre!

August 22, 2016

The Kinver Country Fayre is back on, following it’s summer cancellation due to a waterlogged field! It’s taking place on SUN 4th September – and you can get their without all the car parking queues!

There’s plenty of room at Stourbridge Junction car park on Sundays, so why not hop on The Shuttle to Stourbridge Town, where Hansons special service 227E will be running mostly hourly to Kinver village. Buses depart from Stand A in the bus station, and normal bus fares apply. The bus will follow the usual 227/8 route to Kinver and stop at all bus stops via Wollaston.

Buses depart Stourbridge bus station at 0940, 1040, 1140, 1240, 1340, 1540 & 1640. They return from Kinver Edgecliff School at 1015, 1115, 1215, 1315, 1415, 1615 & 1800.

Our Sunday Shuttle service runs every 15 minutes from both Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town, starting at 0943 from Stourbridge Junction, then 1000, then at 00, 15, 30, 45 minutes past the hour, and from Stourbridge Town at 0948, 1005, then at 05, 20, 35, 50 minutes past every hour.

Full details of the bus service, and what’s on at Kinver Country Fayre can be found at kinvercountryfayre.com

GREAT FARE DEALS! Network Family Daytripper for up to 2 Adults & 4 children – £11.20. Includes ALL buses / trains / trams in the West Midlands all day! Hansons Family Day Hoppa £8 (special bus 227E only). Other local bus fares and tickets are available (please note: National Express West Midlands DaySavers NOT valid).

Buying Tickets: Network Family Daytripper available from Stourbridge Junction ticket office. Hansons Hoppa ticket and other bus only tickets available from the Hansons bus driver. Please note: tickets are NOT able to be purchased on board The Shuttle.

“Any Day Everyday” – New Stourbridge Shuttle Film

August 2, 2016

Pre Metro Operations – which runs the Stourbridge Shuttle – has commissioned a new short film, showing “a day in the life of” the Stourbridge Shuttle operation.

Produced by local Stourbridge author, broadcaster and film-maker Dr. Paul Collins, it was first shown at the UK Light Rail Conference in Birmingham in July.

The film captures the unique operation of the light rail service, which links Stourbridge Town Centre with regional rail services at Stourbridge Junction.

Shuttle is “Efficient, Clean, Economic”

Efficient, Clean, EconomicAugust 2, 2016

A new independent report has confirmed that the Stourbridge Shuttle is “Efficient, Clean, Economic”.

The report – by economist organisation Viaduct – found that PMOL’s Stourbridge Shuttle operation is highly efficient with regards to running costs and carbon dioxide emissions.

When using standard ORR (Office of Rail & Road) benchmarks, the Shuttle costs around £70 per train hour to operate, compared to £433-£736 per train hour on traditional regional railways. The Class 139 Railcars used on the Shuttle operation are also only a third of the weight of a Sprinter unit (previously used on the Stourbridge branch line operation) meaning reduced maintenance costs to the infrastructure.

When it comes to environmental concerns, the Shuttle operation is extremely clean and green. Compared to other modes of transport, emissions are very low, beating small cars and even motorcycles.

Click PMOL Efficient Clean Economic to download the report.

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Shuttle Passenger Numbers on the Rise…Again!

PassengersJuly 4, 2016

The Stourbridge Shuttle has been celebrating after it broke it’s own record for passenger numbers for the sixth successive year.

In the year-to-end May 2016, approximately 600,000 journeys were made on the Stourbridge branch line – the highest number to date. It represents an increase of 27% over the first full year of operation (to May 2011).

A total of over 3.5 million passengers have used the innovative link since the service was initiated in 2009 using the two LPG/flywheel-powered railcars, produced locally in Cradley Heath by Parry People Movers.

Annual approximate passenger numbers for the Stourbridge Shuttle operation:

2011 – 471,000

2012 – 481,000

2013 – 527,000

2014 – 553,000

2015 – 595,000

2016 – 600,000

(all figures relate to the year-ending in May)

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Avoid the Car Park Blues – Do the Shuttle Combo!

SBJ-BWS-picApril 26, 2016

Major car park resurfacing work is currently taking place on the Brook Road car park at Stourbridge Junction.

The busy park & ride facility will have reduced capacity from 9th May for around a month.

Travellers are being urged to “Do The Shuttle Combo” and avoid the car park hassle! With an extensive local bus network – including many new vehicles – and fast trains to Birmingham City Centre, there’s never been a better time to try the local public transport network!

With all Stourbridge bus routes serving the state-of-the-art Interchange, it’s just a few steps to the Stourbridge Shuttle. With Shuttles every 10 minutes, you’re only 3 minutes away from Stourbridge Junction, with fast trains running up to 6 times per hour into the heart of the City. No parking, no hassle, no fuss. Combine your journey, your way!

You can catch up on Facebook, Tweet us your views, peruse the news, or engross yourself in a thriller (in book form, of course!)

Take a look at how buses, trains, trams, cycling and walking all fit together at Network West Midlands and start planning your hassle free trip! Do the Shuttle combo!

See you on board soon…;-)

Transport Leaders Visit Pre Metro

West Midlands Integrated Transport AuthorityApril 12, 2016

Members of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority have visited Pre Metro’s Stourbridge Shuttle operation to gain an insight into the unique operation on the Stourbridge branch line.

The visitors were taken on a tour of Pre Metro’s depot and maintenance facility and a ride on the Stourbridge Shuttle to Stourbridge Town, where they also viewed Stourbridge’s state-of-the-art bus station and interchange facility.

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council Leader Cllr. Pete Lowe, who was part of the delegation said;

“It was a pleasure again to ride on the Stourbridge Shuttle and learn further such an operation might have in addressing our wider transportation issues in other areas locally”

Pre Metro Preferred Operator for Preston

February 29, 2016

Pre Metro Operations Ltd has been selected as the preferred operator to run a proposed light rail operation in Preston.

Trampower are proposing to operate a light rail service partly on Network Rail tracks and on the track bed of the former Longridge Railway branch to the Park & Ride facility at J31A of the M6. Future expansion will include on-street running through Preston City Centre to the railway station.

The project, known as the GUILD Tramway, is currently being considered for planning permission. There is popular support for the proposal – 18,000 local residents were surveyed, with 80% of the respondents in favour, 70% of local businesses support the idea, and 78% responding to a survey in the Lancashire Evening News in favour.

Promoter Trampower has built and operated an advanced “City Class” tram in Blackpool and Birkenhead. This can carry 200 passengers, weighs 22 tonnes and has the lowest power consumption in the market (1kWh/km). The vehicle can be built in Lancashire at a vehicle cost of around 50% of the recently-delivered new trams in Blackpool. It is envisaged that 6 trams will be required to operate the service.

Pre Metro Suggests South Western Opportunities

Isle of Wight trainFebruary 2, 2016

Pre Metro Operations Ltd has responded to the Department for Transport consultation on the South Western Rail Franchise.

Chief Executive Phil Evans suggested that Pre Metro could play a part in the development of several operations in the region through a sub-contract arrangement similar to it’s current operation in the West Midlands, as well as the possibility of a standalone micro-franchise.

Recognising that a small company such as Pre Metro couldn’t realistically be considered for the provision of train services at a franchise level, he suggested that the innovation put in place by Pre Metro on it’s Stourbridge Operation could be repeated in the South West.

The Isle of Wight Island Line proposal for a separate business unit is supported, and this could be the precursor to a locally-controlled bespoke company. Pre Metro’s consultation with interested parties on the Isle of Wight has led the company to recommend a phased approach to autonomy. The operation could see revenue growth through tourism growth, new developments and an improved & regular train service frequency. The “third rail” system is recommended to be replaced by existing light rail technology.

Other proposals suggested by Pre Metro in the consultation response include;

  • The progressive expansion of the Island Line to other parts of the Isle of Wight utilising light rail technology and working practices.
  • Conversion of the existing Lymington branch line operations to a non-electrified light rail operation.
  • Introduction of a low-cost passenger service on the Swanage-Wareham alignment utilising a non-electrified light rail operation.
  •  Other potential light rail feeder services to be investigated in the longer-term, including Bentley-Bordon and a Weymouth dock circular service.

Some of the current rolling stock on the Isle of Wight could be replaced by light rail, as suggested by Pre Metro.

Stourbridge sees more Passengers!

Passengers

January 28, 2016

Recent figures issued by the Office of Rail and Road show that footfall at Stourbridge’s two railway stations has increased.

The final totals in the most recent yearly figures (covering 2014/15) show that 1,323,834 passed through Stourbridge Junction, which was an increase on the previous year of 3.75%. Of those, 415,470 interchanged with the Shuttle – around a third of all passengers using Stourbridge Junction.

At Stourbridge Town, the figure was 497,736 – an increase on the previous 12 months of 2.95%.

We’re grateful to all of our regular passengers and friends – and our occasional users! – who use The Shuttle!

Here’s how Stourbridge stations compare with others along the Snow Hill line between Worcester & Birmingham:

1. Birmingham Moor Street. 6,521,272 (+4.8%) [interchanges: 421,291]2. Birmingham Snow Hill. 4,538,108 (+2.30%). [interchanges: 239,372]

3. Worcester Foregate Street. 2,207,508. (+20.37%)*. [interchanges: 208,193]

4. Kidderminster. 1,561,914. (-1.46%)

5. Stourbridge Junction. 1,323,834 (+3.75%) [interchanges: 415,470]

6. Rowley Regis. 921,116. (+0.38%)

7. Cradley Heath. 740,842. (+2.04%)

8. Worcester Shrub Hill. 595,402 (-38.54)* [interchanges: 117,435]

9. Smethwick Galton Bridge. 577,222 (+2.77%) [interchanges: 461,664]

10. Droitwich Spa. 533,268 (-1.01%) [interchanges: 71,300]

11. Stourbridge Town. 497,736 (+2.95%)

12. Hagley. 480,457. (-1.93%)

13. The Hawthorns. 422,750 (-2.30%)

14. Jewellery Quarter. 395,202 (+2.58%)

15. Old Hill. 185,406 (+3.29%)

16. Langley Green. 169,866 (-0.37)

17. Blakedown. 91,698 (+2.74%)

18. Lye 82,104 (-0.68%)

19. Hartlebury 39,250 (+77.88%)

Pre Metro visits TDI – Transport Design International

Future
January 24, 2016

Pre Metro Operations Ltd Chief Executive Phil Evans visited TDI – Transport Design International -recently to view their latest design, the ABH Light Railcar, prior to its delivery to a private operator in Turkey. A member of PMOL driving staff from the company’s Stourbridge Shuttle operation accompanied Phil and had a test-drive around the testing facility in Long Marsden, Warwickshire.

The vehicle is a bi-directional single bogie Railcar capable of 65kph on straight level standard gauge track. It is 18.3m long, diesel-electric powered and capable of carrying 120 passengers. Although not designed or built in line with all current British Railway Group standards it is not considered to be too onerous to adapt to such requirements. The vehicle is fully air-conditioned and heated throughout and the ride quality over the Long Marston track was impressive. It is certainly finished off to the high standards you would expect from Severn Lamb, the Warwickshire based manufacturer.

PMOL is examining various options for future railcar use, both for its existing Stourbridge Shuttle operation in the Black Country and for potential future operations in other parts of the UK.

Pre Metro at the UK Light Rail Conference

Headlight
January 24, 2016

Pre Metro Operations Limited were present at the 11th Annual UK Light Rail Conference, held this year at Aston University on the 27/28th July 2016.

Representatives from the management team and several drivers attended over the two days. In addition, the company had an exhibition space where we showed the new Shuttle film “Any Day Everyday”. Pre Metro Operations Chief Executive Phil Evans made a presentation at the event, highlighting the success of the Stourbridge Shuttle operation, now in it’s 7th year of operation . The aim of the conference was to bring together over 250 decision-makers for two days of open debate covering all aspects of light rail operations and development.

Pre Metro’s presentation highlighted the unique operation of the service using hybrid gas/flywheel railcars, the success of the Sunday-only trial 10 years ago, which also discovered demand for a Sunday service on the line, the continued high-performance level (between 99.5-99.8% since 2011), the continued rise in passenger numbers (up from 471,000 in 2011 to 600,000 this year), the small carbon footprint of the operation – even when providing more journeys when compared to the old “heavy” rail operation – and a total operational cost of 50% of a conventional rail operation.

Company Director Steve Jasper said “it is vitally important that we involve ourselves in major conferences such as this. The objective was to publicise the success of the Stourbridge Operation in terms of reliability, passenger growth and cost savings. Also, to emphasise how the business model can apply to similar rail lines throughout the UK and elsewhere”.

London Midland Contract Extended

December 4, 2015

The Department for Transport has announced that London Midland has received a new contract extension until October 2017.

This means that the Stourbridge Shuttle will continue with its current arrangements until this date, with a possible extension for a further year, approaching the new long-term franchise renewal.

Pre Metro and Parry People Movers work together!

April 29, 2015

Parry People Movers Ltd is now working closely with Pre Metro Operations Ltd to progress mutually beneficial light rail opportunities.  Such opportunities will involve both companies in seeking to influence the direction and success of the Dudley Light Rail Innovation Centre proposal whilst building upon the operational successes achieved at Stourbridge.

 
In order for the two separate companies to expand their sphere of operation they will be mutually looking to develop larger and more efficient Railcars and will, in particular, be attempting to ensure that the bidders for future rounds of franchised rail operations are well aware of the excellent performance achieved by the Class 139 Railcars at Stourbridge and the on-site operational and maintenance experiences so gained.  The two companies will also be exploring the opportunities to introduce the Stourbridge experience to other areas where the need for a rail based transport solution has been identified.