A Northern Rail Pacer Train at Southport Railway Station. Photo by Andrew Brown Media

The much-hated Northern Pacer trains have made their last journey, and will never be seen on the Southport to Manchester railway line again. 

The last bone-shaking fleet was built between 1980 and 1987.

The railbuses were only ever intended as a short-term solution to a shortage of rolling stock, with a lifespan of no more than 20 years, and have been the bane of passengers’ lives ever since. 

Yesterday, there was finally some good news – the last ever Pacer to carry Northern customers completed its swansong journey having travelled from Kirkby to Manchester Victoria.

It was a farewell, yes – but definitely not a sad farewell. 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps Tweeted@ “Goodbye (and good riddance?)

“These famously cold, slow and uncomfortable trains have finally reached the end of the line because we’re upgrading our trains!”

The final journey – completed by 142004 – ended at 5.45pm, marking just over 35 years of continuous service in the north of England and clocking 3million miles in the process.

Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “The Pacers have kept millions of northerners on the move and, while they have served us well and provided some communities with rail services they may have otherwise lost, it is time to give them a well-earned rest.

“Northern has overseen significant modernisation in recent months and the retiring Pacers have made way for a fleet of 100 brand-new trains which are already servicing people across the north of England.”

During their time on the network Northern’s fleet of 102 Pacers travelled more than 300million miles – equivalent to 630 trips to the moon and back.

Retirement of the Pacer fleet began in the summer of 2019 and the trains have been gradually removed from service and more and more new and refurbished trains have been introduced.

Northern’s new trains feature free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, at-seat power and customer information/media screens with real-time information. They are also more spacious and fully accessible, with spaces for wheelchairs and cycles.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary with Cabinet Responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse, said: “The Pacer fleet has connected communities on the Northern network for over 30 years, but today marks the sun finally setting on trains that have become loved by some, but hated by many.

“This marks a new era of transport in the north, with passengers enjoying a brand new fleet of trains, delivering more modern services and creating a more reliable network across the north.”

Do you have any stories for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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