Rail franchises operators & contracts

18.02.19

40-year-old Pacer trains in East Lancashire gone by end of the year, assures Northern

Northern has assured passengers that it will replace all of its 40-year-old Pacer trains on the East Lancashire line by the end of year.

Concerns were raised at a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and passengers have expressed doubts over the planned timetable, with the Pacer trains originally scheduled to be withdrawn from all Northern services by the end of last year.

But Northern’s director of operations Paul Barnfield stated that the ageing trains will be out of use by the end of the year, but stopped short of guaranteeing that they would be gone by 2020.

A new fleet of trains worth £500m will start entering operations throughout 2019, and Northern said it was upgrading the rest of its existing trains that will be in use in 2020 and beyond – but this does not include the Pacer trains as they will be leaving the Northern network.

Barnfield said: “We have a plan that we feel is robust. If there was an issue that occurred around fleet cascade, we will be looking at an alternative option.

“We can assure our customers that there are no plans to retain the Pacer trains beyond the end of 2019.”

At the WYCA meeting, the leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake said Northern had “stopped short of guaranteeing they will be gone.”

The trains were meant to arrive in 2018 but have been hit by delays, leading to complaints from passengers, and the RMT has called several times for Arriva Rail to be stripped of the Northern franchise.

Darwen Council and TfN’s Phil Riley commented: “Northern has given us an assurance that Pacers will be withdrawn by the end of the year and we must take it at face value.

“I would hope that Northern fulfils that promise. Taking Pacers out of service was a priority in gaining its rail franchise. Passengers are fed up with them.”

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