Pacer trains saved from the blowlamp

© Copyright David Robinson
Love them or hate them no one can deny that if it wasn’t for the pacer family of trains most of the branch lines still open today may have closed.
The trains are known for having very bouncy suspension, and uncomfortable ride quality.
They have now been running up and down the network since 1984. That’s 36 years of service not bad for a train that only had a lifespan of 20 years.

However, the time has now come to say goodbye to what is the old reliable of the railway network as they do not meet DDA Regulations. Almost all class 140,141,142,143 and 144 pacer trains are being scrapped and will no longer operate on mainline services.

Although part of the same family each class of pacer has different apperances ©Geof Sheppard


Built as what was initially termed a short term solution to the rolling stock shortage mainly in northern England the pacer from the initial design had to be as cheap as possible to build.

In their purest form, they are Leyland national bus bodies mounted to a frame often used by a freight wagon. The combination may have saved may branch lines from closing as the cheap cost of the train was able to make it profitable to keep the lines open; however, the sacrifice was passenger comfort. They quickly became known as nodding Donkeys to rail enthusiast thanks to the very bouncy springs of the wagon based frame.

The Class 142 is the most popular of the pacer family ©El Pollock
Fans of pacers will be glad to hear that some will live. The latest one to avoid the blowlamp is 144011 which will now run at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. This unit has seen 34 years of service and is due to move from Haworth motive power depot (MPD) at the end of May where it would see the end of mainline operation with its current Train Operating Company Northern.
144011 seen in service with Northern rail ©mattbuck
We are great fans of the pacers and hope to see at least a few more saved from the blow torch and operating on heritage railways soon. Let us know in the comments what you think of the pacers and are you glad to see them go?
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