Great Britain

First Pacer train goes into Locomotion museum at Shildon

AFTER more than three decades of carrying rail passengers around the region, the much-derided Pacer trains are being withdrawn from service.

And the first of their kind, Pacer train no 142001, yesterday made a special journey along the line to Locomotion at Shildon, where it became the newest addition to the National Railway Museum collection.

Senior curator Anthony Coulls said: "Some people might be surprised to see it but it is part of the railway story of the UK and this region in particular.

"The national collection is not just about the fastest and biggest– the Pacer has its place, it is about the everyday becoming history."

In the 1980s, Pacers provided a practical and economical solution to rail travel across the North of England.

The ageing diesels of the 1950s and 60s needed replacing and, as the national network underwent massive cuts, rural and branch lines were under pressure.

The Pacers– with bus bodies and seating, railway wagon under frames and diesel engines– became a sustainable way of carrying people from A to B.

Almost 35 years later they are now in poor condition, have none of the mod-cons passengers expect and fail to meet accessibility rules.

Mr Coulls said: "People have scoffed at them, lots of people don't like them but they are the reason lines to places like Saltburn, Bishop Auckland and Carlisle survived.

"They were lightweight, efficient, relatively user-friendly and cheap. We laugh at them now, they are derided but our expectations are very different to 30 years ago.

"They were practical fairly user-friendly, cheap and efficient trains which did the job they were designed for for three decades."

Owner Angel Trains and operator Northern worked together to enable to no. 142001 to go to Locomotion.

It will be kept in working order and museum staff and volunteers will be trained to drive it so visitors can take a ride on the Pacer, which is likely to make appearances at the National Railway Museum at York and on heritage lines in future.

Mr Coulls added: "It was the first and one day will be the last, people will look at it to see what train travel here was like in the eighties, nineties and noughties.

"They are part of our social history."