STOURBRIDGE’S revolutionary gas powered tram has celebrated transporting half a million passengers.

The Parry People Movers environmentally-friendly shuttle service, which operates between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town, transported its 500,000th passenger on Tuesday August 17.

On top of the milestone, the branch line service has achieved 99 per cent reliability since the start of 2010.

Passenger numbers have also increased by 20 per cent from the end of June to mid August this year compared to the same period in 2009.

Former MP Lynda Waltho, a long-time supporter of the innovative railcars, said: “It’s fantastic news and shows the commitment and confidence people have in the service.”

Cradley Heath businessman John Parry, the inventor of the tram and chairman of PPM Ltd, said he is now busy planning a new maintenance depot - which he believes will further boost reliability.

He said: “It represents a statement of confidence by the rail industry in the future of our ‘lightweight rail’ concept, which we hope to see implemented around the country to provide new transport links.”

The light-weight trams, equipped with flywheel energy storage that regenerates energy lost in braking,were introduced by London Midland in June 2009 - marking the end of the line for conventional trains.

They depart in each direction every ten minutes Monday to Saturday for most of the day and a service also operates on Sundays, although less frequently.