LOVE them or hate them, passengers will not forget them.

Pacer trains - nicknamed ‘bus trains’ - have for many people been the bane of their commuting lives. Constructed from a bus body attached to a freight train base, commuters associate them with draughty carriages and noisy journeys.

But the end is in sight, with assurances from rail operator Northern that the fleet will be gone by the end of this year, to be replaced with swish new state-of-the-art trains with stylish interiors, air-conditioning and add-ons for the tech generation such as plug sockets and Wi-Fi.

Concerns had been raised at a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and passengers had expressed doubts over the planned timetable, with the 40-year-old trains originally scheduled to be withdrawn from services operated by Northern by the end of last year.

But assurances have been given that this year will be their last on the network. “ There are no plans to retain Pacer trains beyond the end of 2019,” says a spokesman for Northern. “Pacers will be retired and at the same time new trains will be introduced. These will run on certain routes and some existing trains will move to different areas.”

At a cost of £500million, 101 new trains will join the 243 trains already on the network - not including Pacers. The existing trains which remain are being refurbished to a high standard, with improvements including new livery, seats and flooring.

Introduced in 1984, there are currently around 100 Pacers on the Northern network. Despite their bad press, they served their purpose.“Although outdated and unloved by many, their contribution should be celebrated for what they have done for rail in the north, operating on many rural routes that would have closed without them,” adds the spokesman. “They are easy to maintain and run and they keep going.”

Built between 1980 and 1987 Pacers or railbuses - described as 'trucks on tracks' by Jeremy Corbyn during a visit to Manchester last September - were intended as a short-term solution to a shortage of rolling stock with a lifespan of no more than 20 years.

They also fall short of legislation which requires that by 2020 all public passenger trains must be accessible to disabled people. Only one Pacer - the modernised 144e - currently meets this requirement.

A ministerial directive in 2015 by the transport secretary required that such railbuses were removed from service by 2020 for the new Northern franchise stating that the "continued use of these uncomfortable and low-quality vehicles is not compatible with our vision for economic growth and prosperity in the north."

Until recently, the only other country that operated them was Iran, which has reportedly shelved them.

Built in Spain, the new trains - around half of which are electric - are being tested in the Czech Republic, before further trials in the UK. The first arrived in this country last October and was unveiled to the media last October.

Their introduction should in time lead to faster journeys. “We have to work with other rail companies and fit in with existing timetables so initially people will not see much difference, but as Pacers go and new trains come through there will be opportunities to get faster and fit more services on to routes.”

He adds: “With the new trains we will have a fleet that will support a larger timetable.”

Northern's managing director David Brown said at the time that their arrival was a "landmark moment" for rail travel in the north of England adding that the "21st Century trains" will "significantly improve journeys".

Pacers are owned by UK-based train leasing companies Angel Trains and Porterbrook. A spokesman for Angel Trains says: “The majority of the Pacer fleet will be withdrawn from service and most likely scrapped during 2019. A small number may be secured for historical/heritage value, community service provision, or for use by the emergency services.

“Angel Trains does not currently have plans to re-lease Pacers to franchise operators once they come off lease from current service. However, community railways may wish to consider operating Pacers to support the development and/or expansion of such local services.”

James Vasey, chairman of Bradford Rail Users Group, says: “It is time for the Pacers to go – they are not comfy and modern and by the end of this year they will not be legal for disabled access.

“In defence of Pacers, without them, at one time, the Government would probably have started to shut down parts of the North West railway network as uneconomic. This filled a gap until privatisation. A lot of small, local services, such as on the Airedale network, were run using Pacers.”

Any travellers who feel they will miss Pacers need not despair - one is destined for the National Railway Museum in York.