IT’S one rail timetable commuters will be particularly pleased to see - the dates the hated Pacer trains will be removed from service.
The 1980s diesel rail-buses have widely been condemned as ‘cattle trucks’ and were only designed to have a lifespan of 20 years.
Now newly released Government documents reveal the full timetable that operator Northern will have to follow to remove more than 200 carriages from service, under a franchise agreement.
The first five two-car Pacers will have to be withdrawn by September 15 next year, starting a programme which will end with the removal of the final four carriages on November 9, 2019.
James Vasey, of Bradford Rail Users’ Group, said it was something to look forward to.
He said Pacers damaged the railway tracks, were outdated and uncomfortable and were inaccessible for wheelchair users.
He said: “I think there will be very few people who will mourn the passing of the Pacer train. People deserve to be able to sit in a train that’s comfortable.”
Mr Vasey said Iran had bought some Pacers for its railways, but had already scrapped them some time ago, which demonstrated how out-dated they were.
He said: “It’s like walking back on an old bus, because that’s exactly what they are. They’re a bus body on a fixed axle so it’s about time we got rid of them.”
Pacers were brought in as a stop-gap way back in the mid-1980s and critics say they fit poorly to the track, with slow acceleration and a need to brake early for station stops.
In an interview with the Telegraph & Argus in 2014, then-Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to rid the North of its Pacers, saying: “Those trains are going.”
Their removal became a key requirement of the franchise to run Northern from 2016 to 2025, which was won by Arriva Rail North.
The company has announced a multi-million pound investment in 281 new carriages, with the first of the new fleet being delivered by October next year.
The 100mph trains will include air conditioning, power sockets, toilets and free WiFi for passengers.
A spokesman for Northern said: “We recently outlined our commitment to modernise our stations and services across our network.
“We are in the process of refurbishing our trains and phasing out the Pacers, which will be removed by 2019 and replaced by 281 new, purpose built, carriages.
“Of course, this can’t happen overnight and our trains will be phased in and out of refurbishment in order to ensure minimum impact on our daily services.
“Further changes are on the way, but we ask that our customers bear with us whilst we continue to make the significant improvements to their stations and services, delivering a rail service fit for the 21st Century.”