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Warning over Northern Pacer replacement delay

July 13, 2019 4:22 PM

Pacer trainLiberal Democratss in the North East have called into question whether a pledge to replace unpopular Pacer rail units on North Eastern local services including those serving Tyne Valley, Durham Coast, Bishop Auckland, and Tees Valley by the end of 2019 will be achieved, after it emerged that the new fleet ordered by franchise operator Northern, owned by Arriva Rail North, are unlikely to be ready to enter service by the start of 2020.

The Sunday Times has reported a design fault on new trains involving coupling of multiple units is set to delay the introduction of the new fleet, leaving Pacers continuing to "trundle and screech" along North Eastern routes. Northern's new fleet will include 43 electric-powered 3 and 4 car units, but given the lack of electrification on local lines in the North East, it is highly likely that these new units will be introduced on electrified routes in Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire. This will leave the North East scrapping for a share of the 55 diesel-powered units with the rest of the North. Previous deliveries of new rolling stock have typically been introduced in other parts of the country first, leaving the North East to receive older units as part of a process known as cascading.

Liberal Democrats Opposition transport spokesperson on Newcastle City Council Cllr Greg Stone said:

"Delays in the rollout of the Pacer replacements looks likely to mean that North East commuters on services into Newcastle from Hexham, Cramlington, and the East Durham line are going to have to endure these old 'cattle trucks' for a bit longer than promised.

"I would like North East transport bosses to confirm that the North East will not be the last part of the Northern network to be operating Pacers. It would be deeply disappointing if it emerged that the brand new units are being directed onto services in Yorkshire and the North West, leaving our region to make do with equally elderly cast-off Sprinters rather than shiny new trains".