Northern rail claims Pacer trains will be 'all gone' within next nine months

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Pacer trains will “all be gone” in Yorkshire by May 2020.

That’s according to a representative from rail operator Northern, who told a meeting of regional decision-makers that the company was going to rid the network of the decades-old railway engines by next year’s Spring timetable changes.

Pacer trains could be gone by next May, a meeting has heard.

Pacer trains could be gone by next May, a meeting has heard.

It follows recent news that the trains, which date back to the 1980s, would not all be decommissioned by the planned January 2020 date, amid delays to the introduction of newer models.

A representative from Northern told a West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) transport committee meeting that some pacer trains would still be in use next January, but would be swiftly replaced in the following months.

He said: “We will retain a number of pacer trains beyond the December timetable. The reason is simply because there is no other way of operating trains without doing that.

“They are in Yorkshire for one simple reason – that is that our train crew here can drive them now, can operate them now. If we introduced them elsewhere where they don’t operate them now, we would introduce a training need that could not be coped with.

“They are being used on the lines that are quieter than any others, so the capacity will be able to cope. They are the class 144 trains that are the newest of the pacers and offer the most capacity.

“The lines they will operate on in West Yorkshire are the new service between Huddersfield and Bradford, the Huddersfield to Castleford service, the Sheffield to Huddersfield via Penistone line and the Sheffield to York service.

“Some of them will go by the third week in January, but they are all gone by the start of the May 2020 timetables – they will all be gone by that point.”

A WYCA report which went before committee members this week had said the company would withdraw the trains by “summer”, adding that otherwise services would have to be cancelled or run with reduced capacity.

The report says: “It is now clear that Northern will need to keep around 23 of its pacer trains in passenger service beyond the end of 2019, in diminishing numbers to achieve complete withdrawal by summer 2020. Whilst this situation is clearly unwelcome, the alternative is a potentially worse situation of having to cancel trains and / or reduce capacity of peak services.”