Chancellor signals scrapping of 'unpopular' Pacers

THE much-criticised Pacer trains which are still in use on many routes in the north of England are to be replaced, the Chancellor has promised.

The news came during his Autumn Statement to Parliament, in which he said: "I can confirm today that we will tender for new franchises for Northern Rail and the Trans-Pennine Express – replacing the ancient and unpopular pacer carriages with new and modern trains."

The Pacers were built in the early 1980s by British Rail, at a time when its finances were under great pressure and further line closures were being considered. At the time, the trains -- based on Leyland National bus bodies and without bogies -- were seen as the only possible replacement for the first-generation diesel multiple units from the 1950s and 1960s which were reaching the end of their lives.

They are not compliant with a forthcoming tightening of accessibility rules, and conversion would be expensive. They are often criticised for the quality of their ride and their poor resistance to collision impacts.

The Chancellor also confirmed major investment in railways in the north of England. He said: "Our ambition is to build a northern powerhouse as a complement to the strength of our capital city, where we bring together our great cities of the North. Since I set out that ambition less than six months ago we have proposed, reported on, and given the green light to the concept of High Speed 3.

"This week we commit billions of pounds to other road and rail improvements across the whole of the North of England."

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