First Pacer trains finally depart from rail firm Northern

Train operator Northern has finally said a permanent goodbye to some of its Pacer trains.

Three of the outdated trains have been returned to their owning company Angel Trains, with dozens more to follow in the coming weeks.

Northern said the majority of its 102-strong fleet of Pacers will be removed from service by the end of the year.

All retired Pacers will be stored at a depot in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, before being broken down for scrap.

Pacer trains were built in the 1980s (Andrew Washington/Northern/PA)
Pacer trains were built in the 1980s (Andrew Washington/Northern/PA)

Northern had pledged to replace all of the trains by the end of this year.

It blamed delays in the building and delivery of new trains from Spanish manufacturer CAF for missing that deadline.

Pacers were built using bus parts and were introduced in the early 1980s.

They were only intended as a short-term solution to rolling stock shortages on mainly rural routes, but have been used to serve busy commuter towns and cities for decades.

Political leaders in the North claim their continued use demonstrates a lack of transport investment in the region compared with the South.

Northern’s managing director David Brown said: “We’re delighted to be delivering on our commitments of removing Pacers from customer service and, at the same time, introducing 101 brand new trains.

“Whilst Pacers have served the North well, we know that they are old, outdated and not popular with our customers. For these reasons, when we won the right to begin operating the franchise in 2016 we developed plans to remove them all from service.

“At least 55 of the 102 Pacers will be permanently retired by the end of this year, with the remainder all gone by May next year.

“We are transforming our business and service to customers with a £600 million investment in brand new and refurbished trains – and improvements at stations – that will provide everything a 21st century customer expects.”

Speaking in October, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps described Pacers as a “symbol of the old railway continuing” and described their retention as “very frustrating”.

The only other operators using Pacers in Britain are Transport for Wales and Great Western Railway.

A competition was launched in the summer to convert a retired Pacer owned by rolling stock company Porterbrook into a public space such as a hotel, microbrewery, cafe or village hall.