Learn to drive a Pacer at Welsh line
THE Llanelli & Mynydd Mawr Railway and South Wales Railcar Group are inviting visitors to drive a Pacer DMU under full instruction from a qualified instructor.
As previously reported, No. 142006 was retired from main line duties in late December 2020 and is the only South Wales-based Class 142 unit to be preserved, while Class 143 No. 143607 came out of service just last May.
An initial Pacer driver experience has already taken place with a participant who travelled all the way from Manchester to Cynheidre. He said: “Thank you! I had a brilliant day. Best wishes and I hope to see you again at the railway in the near future!”
Pacers had their origins in BR’s wish to replace its first-generation DMUs, particularly with the use of railbuses on its lightly-used branch lines. The chosen design had a high level of commonality with the widely-used Leyland National bus body.
The classes 141, 142, 143 and 144 Pacer units became the target of negative publicity for many years due to their allegedly poor ride quality, and the resulting general unpopularity among passengers eventually led to their withdrawal from the national network.
The last main line passenger service with a Pacer unit in its formation was the 10.02pm Rhymney to Cardiff Central on May 29, 2021, which was worked by No. 143601 coupled to a 150/2 unit. This train ended Pacer operation after more than 35 years.
Each driver experience includes a full safety brief, the opportunity to fully prepare the unit for service, the chance to shunt the unit over track unavailable for passenger use, and three complete journeys over the LMMR running line.
Participants also receive a personalised certificate signed by the instructor, a photograph of themselves in the cab sent by email, a packed lunch (vegetarian and vegan options available on request), and one-year membership of the LMMR and the DMU group worth £25. Options for family members are available at an additional cost; each participant can bring up to five people who may sit in the passenger saloon during the three trips.
The cost is a minimum donation of £200 for one participant and £350 to share the experience with another.
Experiences are available on selected dates through the year, and all proceeds go towards the upkeep and ongoing development of the railway, a volunteer-run charity. Bookings can be made via the www.ticketsource.co.uk/ llanellirailway website.
Meanwhile, volunteers have been busy during the winter creating much-improved visitor facilities at Cynheidre.
A new heritage display has been created in the main stock shed. A new and much-improved toilet block with step-free access for those with mobility issues has been provided thanks to help from Llanelli Town Council and the Change Makers Fund.
The railway has also been successful in acquiring a quantity of ex-main line metal benches in a recent Network Rail Redundant Assets sealed bid auction, which have been collected from Euston. At Cynheidre, they will offer much-improved outdoor seating facilities for visitors.
The railway will reopen with a gala day on Saturday, March 26 to kickstart the new summer season with regular events, following through to October.