Save our Pacers?!! ….

Posted on April 1st, 2010, by The Chairman

The 4-wheel bumpy, cold, wet, draughty class 142 Pacers have served us “well” for many years.

But would we be sorry to see them go? NO!! We’d like class 156 Super Sprinters to be the normal trains for our services.

It seems some people would miss them.

If you’d like to support them, have a look at The Class 142 Society, The Pacer Preservation Society, and/or The Class 144 Appreciation Society.

We think the first ones to go should be those with the nasty yellow Merseytravel seats in!

(p.s. no, this isn’t an April Fool !!)

Please leave a comment

  1. A Mid Cheshire rail passenger Says:

    Not the most comfortable of trains.

    I find that due to their draughty nature Pacers can be freezing cold in winter (when the heating is often not working!), but a welcome relief in hot conditions when the draughtiness has its advantage.

    The Pacer Preservation Society surely has to be an April fool though 🙂

  2. Jen Says:

    So the number of members of the Pacer Appreciation Society is less than the number of Pacers in use – no surprises there!

    Apparently some of the Manchester based conductors hate using 156s on local services. I think 156s are a good choice of unit to use on our line, but some brand new 172s should be much better. If London Midland can have them for Birmingham then why not Northern for Manchester?

  3. Black Five from Rhyl Says:

    The Pacers have even made the National Press …

    The Daily Mail reads “Pacers – which were built in the 1980s from parts off old Leyland Buses are only fit to run in the Third World – indeed they are as – the only other country to use them apart from Britain is Iran.”

  4. Harveyrat Says:

    I’m one of those strange people who have grown fond of Pacers and I certainly appreciate them when alighting at stations where the height difference & gap between train and platform is an issue. No one can deny that we’re certainly recycling & making do.

  5. Carl Wainwright Says:

    They should get rid of Pacers of the Mid Cheshire Line. Then they can raise the DMU Line speed over Weaver Viaduct to 50mph as was proposed a few years ago.

  6. Shelia Says:

    Relating to Carl Wainwright’s comment, why is it that the speed limit hasn’t been raised to 50mph for non-Pacer units? While Northern would have to timetable services for Pacer timings unless they were none booked for the line, wouldn’t it be to everyone’s advantage to do it?

    In Northern’s favour a service that would otherwise be 6 minutes late at it’s final destination and officially classed as late could be 4 minutes late if it’s a Sprinter and able to make up time between Northwich and Greenbank and be not classed as late.

    In the passenger’s favour a couple of minutes made up on a late running train is the difference between seeing your connecting train or tram pull away as you reach the platform and being able to board it.

  7. The Chairman Says:

    Hi, Shelia!

    I think there are a number of difficulties with this. Timetabling those services diagrammed for Sprinter (class 150) and Super Sprinter (class 156) services differently would disrupt the hourly pattern of services on the line. When we had this with the “skip stop” services many years ago it caused a lot of annoyance and confusion to passengers and generated a lot of complaints from those who just missed trains.

    Also, we hear Northern are to lose the 3 class 180 5-car trains in December (to East Coast), and are also to lose 4 of the class 156s to East Midlands to allow the Norwich-Liverpool services to run as 4-cars between Nottingham and Liverpool, something that’s been badly needed since East Midlands came into existence. Northern will be getting some more Sprinters and also the 7 class 142 Pacers that First Great Western have, so it’s more Pacers, not less from December!

  8. Shelia Says:

    Sorry, I didn’t mean that Northern should timetable a Pacer service to take 5 minutes between Northwich and Greenbank and 3 minutes for a Sprinter service.

    I was trying to stay it should stay as 5 minutes for each service, but if it’s a Sprinter and it’s running late then it has the chance to make up a couple of minutes if the line speed was raised. It would also have an advantage when Arriva divert their Llandudno services via Northwich.

  9. The Chairman Says:

    Thanks, Shelia!

    I understand. Sounds good.


  10. Paul Keedy Says:

    From the rumours circulating on forums, it looks like Northern have stated they need Sprinters to replace the 180s not Pacers, but have made preparations for that falling on deaf ears.

    It sounds like Northern are going to look for the 3 single 156s diagrams that most need strengthening and then from September/December (depending on how quickly the London Overground 172s get delivered) they will diagram these to be pairs of 142s for at least the busiest part of the day.

    This will then release 3 x 156s to use to replace the 180 diagrams and will have used 6 of the 7 142s returned from FGW.

    However, they will need to switch diagrams on other services to get another 156 (or 150) freed up to go on one of the current 180 diagrams and will have to use a smaller unit on one or two services to do this.

  11. Peter Dickinson Says:

    As a member of the Pacer Preservation Society, your above blog has been of significant interest. On behalf of the PPS I’d like to remind readers that we are completely genuine and are no April Fool! Our website is, where you can find details about who we are, what we propose and how you can become involved.

    Our first public meeting is on Saturday 26th March at Crewe station, meeting at 11am. If you are interested in getting to know more about the PPS, I’d recommend that you come down for this.

    With regards to Northern Rail’s strengthening of its fleet, since the New Year 3 class 142 units on loan to First Great Western (142009/064/068) have visited Heaton depot for a repaint into Northern Rail base-coat blue. This comes as confirmation that the 7 on-loan Class 142 units do have a future as part of Northern Rail and should be back up north for the start of the Winter 2011 timetable change.

    And finally, returning to the Chairman’s comments on the Merseyrail Class 142s, I must agree with him. Unfortunately, over the years Northern Rail (and its predecessors) have spent very little money modernising the units. If they had followed the example of Arriva Trains Wales in a complete overhaul of the units (with 2+2 seating, refreshed interiors and easier door controls) then the situation would be far different. Arriva Trains Northern (ex-Northern Spirit) did improve the seating and interiors of its Class 142 units, although not on the same scale as ATW.

    For more details on the Class 142’s history, my book “Still Nodding – A History of the Class 142” is available from the PPS’s website for just £4.99.

  12. Harveyrat Says:

    I didn’t like that Pacer interior as experienced last night on the music train – it had seats facing forwards & backwards on each side of the aisle & had a greenish interior – even worse than the old Merseytravel Pacer interiors.

    Am very interested in the Pacer Preservation Society though.

  13. Edd Says:

    Relating to Paul’s comment above – the DfT document released under the Freedom of Information Act states that 6 150s (12 carriages) from London Midland will now directly replace the 180s. 4 150s (8 carriages) will replace the 4 156s going to East Midlands Trains. While cascaded Pacers (and possibly even more cascaded 150s) will be for extra capacity.

    Relating to Peter’s comment above – the only units from the west side that did get new interiors were the 150s. However, it wasn’t done well due to the lack of leg room after the refurbishment and the fact they used new seats which were designed to have arm rests in a 2+2 formation, in a 3+2 formation without armrests, which is really noticeable when you’re sat next to a window.

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