'Outdated' Pacer trains still haven't been taken out of service in Yorkshire, admits Northern rail

A Pacer train, introduced into service in the 1980s.
A Pacer train, introduced into service in the 1980s.

Rail operator Northern has admitted that it is yet to start the process of retiring its notorious Pacer trains from service in Yorkshire.


The firm had previously promised it would start phasing out the much-criticised rolling stock, made up of a modified bus body and four-wheeled wagon frames, by the end of 2018.

But the Guardian newspaper reported that none of the 1980s railbuses have yet been taken out of service, though Northern says the Pacers will still all be retired by the end of 2019.

The delay has been blamed on the failure to complete electrification work between Manchester and Bolton, which meant electric trains cannot yet be used on this route as previously planned.

A Pacer train could go on display in York's National Railway Museum

A Northern spokesman said: “This means the diesel trains that continue to operate on that route have yet to be redeployed elsewhere on our network. As a result, we need to continue to operate the Pacers and we are still working on the phasing of their retirement.”

The delay to the electrification work last year led to the May 2018 timetable having to be hastily rewritten, resulting in chaos when it was introduced due to the lack of suitably-trained drivers.

The Northern spokesman told The Yorkshire Post the "outdated" Pacers would be retired from its routes by the end of 2019.

Pacer trains to be replaced from Christmas

He said: “As part of our modernisation plans to deliver the biggest change to local rail for a generation, Northern is introducing 98 new modern trains, with the first ones in the UK currently being track tested. In addition, we are refurbishing and updating the remaining 243 trains across our network.

“The updated trains include new external livery, new flooring, better toilets, new seat cushions, USB charging points, free Wi-Fi, and more work to make the trains accessible for everyone.”

The rail industry announced last month that rail fares will increase by an average of 3.1 per cent on January 2, the largest rise since January 2013, according to Office of Rail and Road data.