Pacer train phase-out is delayed as speculation mounts over Northern
Under-fire Northern has admitted it will have to keep the outdated Pacer trains in service into next year.
The rickety Pacers, which have been described as a bus body on train wheels, were due to be replaced by 101 new Spanish-built electric and diesel trains by Christmas.
But Northern managing director David Brown, said: “As a result of delays in the delivery of our new trains from manufacturer CAF, we have sought approval for a small number of Pacers to operate on a handful of routes in South/West Yorkshire and the North West for a few weeks into 2020.
"This plan to retain some Pacers for a few extra weeks will help Northern ensure we maximise capacity for our customers.
"Other UK train operators are looking to retain some older trains into 2020, again because of delays in the delivery of their new trains.“Our intention has always been to share these plans with customers. We will look after our customers, especially those who require extra support, advising them about special arrangements to help them during this period.”Richard Garner, CAF UK Director said: “CAF regrets the delay in delivering the next batch of trains to Northern but we are working hard to catch up. We continue to work closely with Northern to bring these new trains into passenger service as soon as possible”.
David Brown continued: “By next Monday, we will have 29 of our 101 new trains in service for customers and 40 more services currently in final testing or being used for driver training. We expect to have 50 new trains in customer service by the end of the year.“The introduction of new trains from July meant the first Pacer was retired in August, with the majority of Pacers still planned to be removed by the end of this year.”
Meanwhile speculation over whether Northern will be able to continue to run the in the region, following criticism of repeated cancellations at weekends, has prompted Transport for the North to issue a statement.
David Hoggarth, Strategic Rail Director for Transport for the North said:“Transport for the North is determined that passengers in the North of England should have rail services fit for purpose. Our Members have made clear their frustration over a number of performance issues in relation to the Northern rail franchise, and while we are now seeing some new trains come into service, albeit late, there are still underlying issues that remain a matter of concern.
“Our view is that, in the event that the franchise was to become unsustainable, our absolute priority would be to put customers first and maintain continuity of services and we have shared our views with the Secretary of State for Transport.
“In order to rebuild confidence with the travelling public we are of the view that, should it be necessary, putting in an Operator of Last Resort would be the only feasible solution for any interim arrangement. We’ve been clear that, in establishing any such arrangement, Transport for the North – and its members including city leaders and metro mayors – should have a strong involvement in the scope of this and in the oversight of the interim operator.”