Nodding Donkeys to Village Halls – Pacer Trains to have a new future?

A Pacer at Preston Station

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-48434379

I had a laugh when I read this BBC website article (see link above) about the coming end of the hugely unpopular ‘Pacer’ trains and that they could have a potential future use as village halls, cafes etc.

Of course the obvious question is why, as it’s often commented upon within railway circles about what bad condition many of these old diesel units are actually in. And why this class of old train? Many classes of old railway stock are being replaced at present due to them being life expired, for example Merseyrail (which gets a mention in the article) is replacing all it’s Class 507/508 rolling stock from 2020 – are they to be suggested for reuse as public buildings too?

I wonder if the former MP for Southport (John Pugh) would like an old Pacer for a garden shed as he (quite rightly) campaigned along with many others for Pacers to be taken out of service?:-) See link below from a 2014 posting of mine:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/09/30/nodding-donkeys-in-southport-well-class-142-pacers-anyway-but-dont-tell-john-pugh-mp/

Inside a down at heel Pacer

With thanks to Lydiate photographer Keith Page for the lead to this posting. Keith also links the future of these unloved trains to our lack of public toilets in communities up and down the land:-)

Pacers are thankfully on their last legs or is that wheels

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42937218

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

An alternative title for this posting could ‘Well John Pugh are you happy now?’ because during his time as MP for Southport John fought to get the appalling Pacer Trains replaced. To be fair many, many other people were on a similar track (sorry about the pun) but John made it onto a BBC North West TV programme about his fight to rid the rails of Pacers.

John has now returned to his political roots as a Sefton Councillor and leads the opposition on Sefton Council.

My previous relevant posting (amongst many!) about Pacers, because it links to the BBC TV programme that John Pugh appeared in, is accessible via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2013/01/01/calling-for-the-end-to-the-use-of-class-142-pacer-trains-on-our-railways/

John’s contribution to the programme is at about the 12 minute mark.

And here’s a video of the new trains being built in Spain:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-42946339/northern-to-replace-pacers-with-21st-century-trains

Pacers! Their history and why we got the damned things

www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35725299

The BBC magazine has the story on the BBC web site – see link above

Pacer

I have covered the campaign to get rid of these trains a number of times previously on this blog site but this bit of history is interesting. One of my previous postings on the subject can be accessed via the link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/09/30/nodding-donkeys-in-southport-well-class-142-pacers-anyway-but-dont-tell-john-pugh-mp/

OPSTA – Another report from the pages of Rail User Express

Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers’ Association – two cars better than one!

It’s ironic that OPSTA should be celebrating the allocation of much-criticised 2-car Pacer units to the Ormskirk-Preston Line, but they say this does restore much-needed seating capacity – the group has long argued that the single-car Class 153 units are inadequate and effectively suppress demand.

With new housing nearby, the numbers using Burscough Junction are growing and OPSTA is continuing to carry out passenger counts. Results from the Burscough Demand Study, commissioned by Merseytravel, are eagerly awaited, but in the meantime OPSTA has been invited to a meeting to go through the findings.

The group is confident that the campaign to retain booking office facilities at Burscough Bridge will prove to have been a success.

OPSTA is working with the Southport Rail Transport Forum to secure the best possible deal for the Southport-Manchester rail service in the new Northern franchise. The two groups are planning another platform survey at selected stations along the route in the autumn – an impressive 75% sample rate was achieved in last year’s survey.

Campaigners are pleased that new customer-information screens have been fitted at various stations on the route.

OPSTA’s committee has been invited to participate in a service-development exercise to be hosted by Transport for Greater Manchester.

Northern Rail is taking the issue of fare collection very seriously and has recruited additional revenue-protection staff. However, the company’s claim that ticketless travel is at 6% and falling is disputed by OPSTA and other groups who fear this is a gross under-estimation. The group has set up a dedicated email address for members to report instances of poor revenue protection.

Another issue for concern has been lineside litter, scrap metal and rampant vegetation – the group acknowledges that Network Rail has made some effort this year to tackle the situation.

Four OPSTA members attended Vivarail’s presentation of their refurbished “D” train at Long Marston and found the experience thought-provoking: “nothing indicates this cannot work and a solid engineering approach means Vivarail deserves to succeed, but a lot of work is still required to prove it can.” The question as to whether the units will be suited to rail services for Ormskirk, Preston and Southport remains to be answered.

Some provocative articles in the previous issue of OPSTA’s magazine “Connections” have stirred up correspondence from members – the Editor is very pleased to have received a number of “impassioned responses”!

Network Rail – The excursion special to goodness knows where

www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34276868

An Intercity HST from BR days around 1990 just coming off Brunel's famous bridge over the Tamar.

An Intercity HST from BR days (around 1990) just coming off Brunel’s famous Royal Albert Bridge Bridge over the Tamar. Click on the shot to enlarge it.

Back to Railtrack! Oh no, we have been shunted into that siding before. Network Rail clearly has its faults and its problems and its failures but what it needs is good management not another trip down a rundown branch line in a Pacer. Government needs to find the best way to run our railways not simply rerun the old tired argument of public V private ownership.

The photo is also on my Flickr page at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

One reason why we fought for Pacer Trains to be taken out of use

5th October 1991 at Liverpool Lime Street

5th October 1991 at Liverpool Lime Street

I picked up on this old story via Facebook but none the less it is an important if historical pointer to the failings of the Class 142 Pacer trains that organisations and people such as OPSTA (Ormskirk, Preston & Southport Travellers Assn), John Pugh MP (the MP for Southport) and many others have been fighting to have taken out of service.

It seems the battle to have them consigned to history is all but won but they will be around for a while yet until their replacements come along.