Compensate Northern passengers using old Pacer trains, say politicians

Passengers forced to use outdated Northern Rail Pacer trains should benefit from reduced fares, politicians have argued in a letter to the train operator.

Northern Rail, a subsidiary of Arriva, has said that a “small number” of Pacers will remain in service into 2020. The trains were originally due to be withdrawn this year.

Pacers, built in the 1980s from old bus frames, were designed as short-term alternatives to trains.

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Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis and Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake have written to Northern Rail managing director David Brown to express their “deep disappointment and frustration” with the situation.

They want Northern to reduce fares on the routes that run Pacer trains until the new rolling stock is introduced.

“This is yet another example of rail passengers in the North being treated like second-class citizens,” said Mr Jarvis.

“It’s unacceptable that people will have to continue to travel on these relics, which should have been consigned to a transport museum long ago.

“A reduction in fares on affected routes, throughout the period that passengers have to travel on what are essentially buses on rails, is the very least that could be done. I expect Northern to do the right thing and compensate its passengers.”

A Northern Rail spokesperson said: “As a result of further delays in the construction and delivery of our new trains from manufacturer CAF, a small number of Pacers units will need to be retained for a short period of time in 2020 to deliver the planned daily timetable with the right capacity for our customers. This situation is not unique to Northern.

“We understand that customers will be disappointed and we are finalising proposals for customer support and offers for customers on those routes on which Pacers will be used in 2020.

“Those proposals will need to be reviewed by Rail North Partnership, the Leeds-based organisation that manages the Northern and TPE franchises on behalf of Transport for the North and the Department for Transport. 

“From today, Monday 21 October, we will have 29 of our 101 new trains in service for customers and a further 27 new trains are in final testing or being used for driver training.

“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.

“We agree the North deserves the best possible rail service and are working hard to improve performance and reliability for customers.”

Northern runs trains across the north of North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.  

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