Pacer’s ar­rival as mu­seum ex­hibit

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By DA­MON WILKIN­SON

A PACER train has ar­rived at a mu­seum amid calls for the new fare rises across the rail­way network to be scrapped on routes where the much-de­rided ve­hi­cles are still used.

The Na­tional Rail­way Mu­seum (NRM) hope the 1980s-era train will ‘spark de­bate’ when it goes on dis­play at its site in Shildon, County Durham.

Po­lit­i­cal lead­ers in the North say the con­tin­ued use of out­dated Pac­ers – known for be­ing slow, bouncy and noisy – shows a wide dis­par­ity in trans­port in­vest­ment be­tween the re­gion and the South East.

The ad­di­tion of a Pacer to the NRM’s col­lec­tion comes weeks after Greater Manch­ester mayor Andy Burn­ham, Sh­effield City Re­gion mayor Dan Jarvis and Leeds City Coun­cil leader Ju­dith Blake wrote to North­ern – one of three op­er­a­tors still us­ing the trains – call­ing for fare re­duc­tions on routes where they re­main in op­er­a­tion.

Rail fares in­creased by an av­er­age of 2.7 per cent across Bri­tain to­day.

The NRM’s Pacer was re­tired by North­ern and do­nated by leas­ing com­pany Angel Trains ear­lier this month.

The long-term aim is to keep the train in work­ing or­der so it can op­er­ate pas­sen­ger rides on the mu­seum’s rail line. NRM se­nior cu­ra­tor An­thony Coulls de­nied it will look out of place along­side more es­teemed ex­hibits such as steam lo­co­mo­tives and record­break­ing trains.

“It will fit very well be­cause the Na­tional Rail­way Mu­seum isn’t just about the fastest, the old­est, the most iconic,” he said.

“It’s about the ev­ery­day his­tory of the rail­ways.

“In terms of mov­ing mil­lions of peo­ple mil­lions of miles over 30 years, the Pacer has earned its place in his­tory.”

Mr Coulls de­scribed trav­el­ling on the trains as a ‘lively ex­pe­ri­ence’ be­cause they ‘bounce along’ the tracks. Pac­ers were built us­ing bus parts more than 30 years ago and were in­tended to be a cheap stop­gap so­lu­tion to a lack of rolling stock.

“We’re very good now at ma­lign­ing the Pacer,” Mr Coulls said. “But if they had not been a suc­cess in mov­ing large num­bers of peo­ple on the pe­riph­eries of the na­tional network, they would not be in ser­vice now.”

He ac­knowl­edged that Pac­ers were ‘of their time’ be­cause mod­ern pas­sen­gers ex­pect trains to have fea­tures such air con­di­tion­ing, wi-fi and ac­ces­si­ble toi­lets.

Pac­ers were fi­nally due to be with­drawn from Bri­tain’s rail­ways by the end of the year, but North­ern, Trans­port for Wales and Great Western Rail­way will con­tinue us­ing them in 2020 amid de­lays in the de­liv­ery of new trains and the trans­fer of ex­ist­ing stock from other op­er­a­tors.

One of the much-ma­ligned Pacer trains

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