Saturday 30 August 2014

DfT - Pacers to Stay and be Modernised

The Government has been slammed for backtracking on its pledge to get rid of Pacer trains which operate across the North.

The dilapidated vehicles, some of which are 30 years old, were to be replaced as part of the new franchise for local lines due to be introduced by 2016.
But in an apparent U-turn, the Department for Transport (DfT) has now said the Pacers could be “modernised” instead, to keep them running for at least another decade.
In a Commons debate earlier this year, then-rail minister Stephen Hammond had said: “We expect to ask bidders for the Northern franchise to put forward proposals for the removal of Pacers from the area.”
The Pacers were originally introduced as a stop-gap in the mid-1980s and consist of a bus body mounted on a freight wagon chassis.
Passengers have long complained they are noisy, cold and uncomfortable with a tendency to break down.

The U-turn is reportedly being considered because the new trains may not all be ready for 2020, when the 90 remaining Pacers will in violation of disability discrimination laws.
To add to the Government’s embarrassment, Chancellor George Osborne has made transforming the down-at-heel Northern rail network a personal priority to help turn the region into a ‘Northern Powerhouse’’.
The Campaign for Better Transport said it was “ludicrous” to contemplate re-fitting the Pacers – especially when billions are being spent on new trains for the Thameslink and CrossRail routes, in London.
In a statement, a DfT spokesman said: “We recognise that they fall short of many passengers’ expectations.”
But he added: “We will specifically ask bidders for the franchise how they will replace, or modernise, these trains to give passengers a better experience.”