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Porterbrook unveils refurbed Class 144e Evolution Pacer

Porterbrook has unveiled the Class 144e Evolution, a refurbished Pacer upgraded to comply with modern accessibility standards and – hopefully – passenger expectations.

The demonstrator unit was made available to press and rail industry professionals at an event at RVEL in Derby. It offers a transformed passenger experience “at a fraction of the cost of a new DMU”, according to Porterbrook commercial director Olivier André.

dg217088-interior-144e-144012-rvel-derby-26-6-15 c. Paul Bigland

A wide range of enhancements are included on the unit, showcasing the different options available to prospective buyers.

The upgrades focus on the passenger interior and include new seats, internal trim and a toilet module that makes the vehicle PRM-TSI compliant.

It also has wi-fi, a vastly improved Passenger Information System (PIS) and a TV screen that shows either adverts of passenger information.

An in-built ramp has also been fitted to assist with wheelchair access.

dg217082-toilet-module-144e-144012-rvel-derby-26-6-15 c. Paul Bigland

The vehicle’s centre of gravity has also been lowered by the removal of a large water tank, as the new toilet requires less water, to provide a smoother ride.

The new seats come from Spanish firm Fainsa. There are 78 seats with two wheelchair spaces and 11 more standing spaces. The overhead luggage racks have been removed and the multi-purpose area includes a combined luggage rack and space for two bicycles.

The project was said to be costing Porterbrook £800,000, but the company said that the refurbishment had taken longer and cost more than expected

dg217032-interior-144e-144012-rvel-derby-26-6-15 c. Paul Bigland

Initial estimates said that the full Class 144e specification would cost about £175,000 per vehicle, or £350,000 for a two-car unit.

The demonstrator unit was developed in partnership with Northern Rail and it is due to return to service with the operator in the next few weeks.

RTM previously reported that the ITT for the next Northern franchise has ruled out the use of Pacers, but Porterbrook is in talks with other companies that currently operate them. The concept of the 144e Evolution could also be applied to other ex-BR multiple-units including the Class 15x family.

(Pictures by: Paul Bigland)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Roger Capel   15/07/2015 at 15:00

No, Paul, people like me who use the damned things daily are far from loving them! As for the demonstrator, appalled to see the new seats. As a back sufferer, that ex-Arriva Northern seat from Richmonds has nearly the best lumber support on the railway.

Barry Knock   06/08/2015 at 13:50

Like pacers as they provide more leg room than the cramped 158s.

Dr J   08/07/2016 at 21:14

First time I've been on one of these, Lincoln to Sheffield. Incredibly uncomfortable seats and paint already flaking from the roof. Looks pretty though !

James   19/09/2016 at 14:47

I've been on this new refurbished pacer one and it really comfortable and the seats are soft and they are comfortable for a long journeys

Simon   01/03/2017 at 18:04

I know mythbusters proved you can polish a turd, but that dont mean you should try it yourself. Just scrap the outdated unsafe pieces of junk.

David Ashworth   23/08/2017 at 19:35

Heaven help us ! These units have had more face lifts than Joan Collins and they are still ancient , slow, uncomfortable, noisy and not suited to the long Trans Pennine routes that we often have to endure. Test a 2 X 2 car unit between Waterloo and Brighton , see what they say !

Nick Kershaw   09/10/2017 at 22:26

The Pacers have done the job they were temporarily put on the lines to do. Having travelled on the 144e today I’m in agreement it does look well but in 2017 it’s not up to today’s expectations it still squeals still leaked in usual places the cost of a ticket justifies some comfort and luxury usb charging and a smooth ride are the norm on buses let the pacers go to preservation lines even the sets that were sold abroad weren’t good enough!

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