Twin Squeaks: Know Your Pacer Units

An absolute beginners’ guide to Britain’s much maligned railbuses

Class 142 Pacer DMU, Manchester Piccadilly, post-rush hour
The most commonplace constituent of the Pacer family, seen at Manchester Piccadilly railway station.

In the late 1970s, the railbus was a far from new concept for British Rail. There had been single car railbuses, such as those by Wickham seen on branch lines. By the dawn of the 1970s, most of the branch lines served by the single car DMUs had closed. Even so, some local routes such as the Penistone and Oldham-Rochdale Loop Lines were threatened with closure.

The start of the decade saw track layouts simplified: for example, the Atherton line was much downgraded from a main line route to a local one shorn of its quadruple track. Smaller stations saw their ticket offices and permanent buildings replaced by bus shelters. The ‘Basic Railway’ became a reality anywhere outside the prestigious Inter-City and Southern Region commuter routes.

Starting to emerge was the possibility of rail being a social good, even if it meant Paytrains and cheaper rolling stock.

Once Upon in the West of Cumbria…

The seeds of British Rail’s Pacer units were sown at a state-of-the-art British Leyland plant near Workington. A standard single decker bus – eventually the UK’s most successful integral bus – was under construction. Rolling off the production line in Lilyhall, in 1972 was the Leyland National. In what is now the Transport for Greater Manchester boundary, SELNEC PTE bought one of the first production class Leyland Nationals and began our conurbation’s 40+ ‘relationship’ with the Leyland National body.

By 1978, the Second Generation railbus became reality, when British Rail’s LEV1 entered service. In 1980, it was tested on revenue earning service in East Anglia and it was followed by the LEV2. Neither LEV1 nor LEV2 received TOPS numbers. There was also the R3 and RB004. The latter cab design would later surface on the Class 141.

The Pacer family was designed as a way of ensuring the retention of scheduled rail services in rural areas. They would have been a cheaper alternative to conventional DMUs on lightly used routes. Instead, a great many were – and still are – used on heavy commuter routes outside of London and South East England. Passenger demand outstripped the units in later years, leading to gross overcrowding in PTE areas. The ride quality and lightweight construction was – and remains – a grave concern among passengers and train crew today.

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Class 140

  • Built: 1980;
  • Number: 1;
  • Top Speed: 75mph;
  • Engine: Leyland TL11.

The first of what would be many Pacer units entered service in 1981 and toured the country. Many quibbled about the ride quality, which would be a common complaint among passengers since the Class 141. The main culprit was its wide axle base, a feature which will be seen in subsequent units. It ended its days on the Exeter – Gunnislake branch before being preserved by the Keith and Dufftown Railway.

Compared with its contemporaries, the Class 140 was narrower than standard BR rolling stock. This was owing to the narrower width of road vehicles compared with rail traction, and the Class 140’s width was equal to the former mode. Its original seating was more akin to dual purpose instead of standard bus seats, which would form the basis of Pacer units from 1980 onwards. Unusually for the Pacer class, its cab ends were more akin to the second generation DMUs, more so the Class 153/155, also built with a Leyland National body.

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Class 141

  • Built: 1984;
  • Number: 20;
  • Top Speed: 75mph;
  • Engine: Leyland TL11.

Whereas the Class 140 was a one-off, the first production units of the Class 141 would surface in West Yorkshire. Entering service in the spring of 1984, they were seen in the Metro West Yorkshire PTE verona green and buttermilk livery. Unlike the Class 140 which had doors at each end, the Class 141’s doors were slightly left of centre of each carriage. On launch, they became notorious for their unreliability and squealing. I remember seeing one first hand on a bay platform at York railway station, whilst waiting for my much superior Class 45 hauled rake of Mark 2s for Stalybridge.

In 1988, they were refurbished by Hunslet-Barclay. Reliability improved, and by then, they were seen in the dark red and cream Metro livery. Most of the Class 141s were sold to Iran, though a handful were preserved. Some of the lines which hitherto had Class 141s, such as the Airedale and Wharfedale lines were electrified, rendering the Class 141s obsolete. Initially, they were replaced by slam-door Class 308 EMUs before the arrival of Class 332s in 2001.

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Class 142

  • Built: 1985 – 87;
  • Number: 96;
  • Top Speed: 75mph;
  • Engine: Leyland TL11, later Cummins LTA10-R.

The most common constituent of the Pacer family are the Class 142 units, introduced between 1985 and 1987. Whereas the width of the Class 140 and Class 141 had similar dimensions to the Leyland National, the Class 142’s widths were set to BR standard carriage widths. This ensured compatibility with the second generation Sprinter DMUs too. As a consequence, its bus seating made for a 3+2 layout. Doors are seen at each cab end with a rear door at one end of each carriage. One of the rear doors faces a claustrophobic toilet. Till the mid-nineties, each doorway was split by a vertical pole, like the Leyland National buses.

In their early days of operation, they were most unreliable. So much so that it wasn’t uncommon to see First Generation DMUs or loco hauled stock deputising. Problems with the gearbox were rectified when the Leyland TL11 engines were replaced by Cummins LTA10-R engines.

In their 28 year existence, the Class 142s have seen numerous liveries and interiors. The Cornish examples had a Great Western Railway style of BR’s Provincial livery. There was the standard two tone blue BR livery, and various PTE liveries including Ken Mortimer’s orange and brown livery for GMPTE subsidised routes. All these were before privatisation! Owing to the bounciness on jointed track, they have been referred to as Nodding Donkeys, Spam Cans and Skippers.

Today, they still see regular service with National Rail’s Nodding Donkey Sanctuary being Newton Heath Diesel Depot. All 94 of the 96 which remain in service are expected to be withdrawn in 2020.

I remember my first taste of Class 142 action on the Oldham-Rochdale Loop Line in 1985 with my late Grandma. It seemed unusual to me being used to Class 104s, but I loved the mainly orange interior trim, its blue and brown seats, and the orange and brown GMPTE livery.

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Class 143

  • Built: 1985 – 1986;
  • Number: 25;
  • Top Speed: 75mph;
  • Engine: Leyland TL11, later Cummins LTA10-R.

Whilst the Class 142s were being built, Hunslet-Barclay and Walter Alexander built a further 25 members of the Pacer family. Whereas the Class 140, 141s and 142s retained the rooftop heating pod (seen on Leyland Nationals till 1978), the Class 143s eschewed this feature. They also had the same door positions as the Class 142s, and their cab ends looked less like those of a Leyland National.

The Class 143s were originally seen in the North East of England and like its mainly Mancunian counterparts, suffered from similar reliability problems. Like the 142s, the Leyland engines were replaced by Cummins ones.

Today, they are seen in South Wales and in South West England. Recent refurbishments have seen the replacement of bus seats with standard train seats, including the Chapman ones seen on Class 150 and 156s.

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Class 144

  • Built: 1985 – 1987
  • Number: 23;
  • Top Speed: 75mph;
  • Engine: Leyland TL11, later Cummins LTA10-R.

The last member of the Pacer family is the Class 144. Like the Class 143s, they were built by Walter Alexander and Hunslet-Barclay, though to Metro West Yorkshire PTE’s specifications. The Class 144s are the only member of the Pacer family available as 3 car units with a third carriage between front and rear cabs. 144001 – 144013 are twin cab units with the remainder being 3 car units. The centre carriage has doors at each end.

They have formed part of Metro West Yorkshire’s local services since the beginning. In more recent times, the Class 144s have been seen in Manchester Victoria on the Calder Valley line service to Leeds. In 2002, their bus style seats have been replaced with conventional train seats. Some have been refurbished with Northern Rail’s moquette.

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Where Next For The Pacers?

Owing to the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, all Pacer units are in breach of this law pertaining to public transport access. Therefore, all members of the Pacer family would have to be withdrawn by 2019 or 2020. Throughout Greater Manchester, a fair number of Pacers may be displaced by Electric Multiple Units, possibly the secondhand Class 319s from First Capital Connect or incumbent Class 323s. The Sprinter units may be seen well beyond 2020.

Will the present non-electrified routes still be using Sprinters in 2020? Or will there be a suitable replacement for the Pacer unit, either as a train-tram alternative or new DMU. Some sources presume that the Class 172 could be a suitable one, owing to its lightweight construction and proven operational record with London Overground and London Midland. The Siemens S70 Avanto has been hailed as a possible alternative for train-tram operation.

Beyond 2020, there’s ever chance that most of our Pacer units should be on the scrap heap, but time is running out if the 2019 to 2020 deadline needs to be fulfilled. There’s every chance more will enter the preservation movement with one such group, the Pacer Preservation Society aiming to preserve at least one member of the Pacer family.

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Before I go…

Feel free to comment on any members of the Pacer family. Whether you’re a paying passenger or a railway employee, feel free to discuss their foibles, nightmare journeys, or memorable ones for good reasons even.

S.V., 19 August 2013.

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29 thoughts on “Twin Squeaks: Know Your Pacer Units

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  1. Stuart,

    Thank you for this companion article to the excellent “Know your Sprinters” one that was recently published. Taken together, they provide a most detailed insight into the recent DMU transportation offered in the area.

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    1. Hi Paul,

      Thank you for your compliments on this article and how it makes a good companion to ‘Know Your Sprinters’. In several years time, both could become historical documents.

      I have now considered the idea of more detailed articles on each member of the Sprinter family which goes beyond the general primer in ‘Know Your Sprinters’, with each of the Pacer family possibly following suit.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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      1. A more detailed and individual series of articles on all the Sprinters and all the Pacers will indded be a most excellent idea if you have the time to do this task. I can see you assuming the title of “the O S Nock of Tameiside”.

        Did you notice how quiet I was over the result (and the scoreline) of the Forest Green Rovers v Hyde match ?

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      2. Hi Paul,

        ‘The O.S. Nock of Tameside’: I like that one. In Stalybridge, I used to know a person who could have claimed that title: the late great Les Smithies.

        Along with his wife Audrey, he used to have a newsagents on Melbourne Street and he could talk for ages on Stalybridge railway station. He also had a selection of photographs of the station in the mid-1960s. Suffice to say, he had the best selection of bus and train magazines of any newsagent I frequented (Harrisons on Market Street, Hyde claims that title for me). From there, my copy of Rail or Buses, a Daily Mirror and The Guardian before I caught the 219 or 236 up to Tameside College.

        Plus he was also a Stalybridge Celtic fan. His newsagent was also a booking office for away match supporters’ coaches organised by the Stalybridge Celtic Supporters’ Association.

        I noticed how quiet you were over the Tigers’ opening day match. It was similarly bad for Stalybridge Celtic (losing 4-0 to Hednesford Town on Saturday), though cancelled out by a 2-1 win over Colwyn Bay on Tuesday at Llanellan Road.

        Bye for now,

        Stuart.

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      3. Hi Paul,

        Not as yet. The camera’s likely to take a battering as well as the keyboard, not least copyright clearance for any older photos which I haven’t taken myself. It is still down as a possible long term project, so it may be worth approaching a few publishers (possibly Venture Publishing or the like) to make this reality, in dead tree bound form.

        Bye for now,

        Stiart.

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  2. There is a photo of me taken about age eight in Piccadilly next to an orange Pacer. Looked so modern to my young eyes.

    If you have even wondered wherethose defunct bus style seats went, by the way, there is at least one First Capital Connect EMU which has had at least one bus seat hastily added on for some reason. Can be found on the Thameslink line

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    1. Hi Andrew,

      It seems odd as to why one of the defunct bus style seats from the Class 140s exists on a First Capital Connect DMU. I would love to know which EMU that was. Then again, there’s every chance it might be one of the secondhand Class 319s set to reach the North West after electrification work is completed between Liverpool Lime Street and Church Fenton!

      I was six when I saw my first Class 142 Pacer unit, and thought they were somewhere between modern and idiosyncratic. Little did I think they would be seen on the Oldham – Rochdale Loop Line till 2009, and countless other local routes in the GMPTE/TfGM boundaries.

      I was only four when I saw my first Class 141 on platform 10 of York railway station. Me, my Dad and my late Nana were stood on platform 9B waiting for our return train to Stalybridge after visiting the National Railway Museum, Castle Museum and a waxworks (which is now the York Dungeon attraction).

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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      1. It will have been one of the 319s – it was a couple of years ago but I think it was one of the Southern ones that FCC had taken on which can be exceptionally tatty. It looked like they’d taken two seats out near the door and replaced it with a bus style seat arranged sideways – presumably to create more space for standees.

        I think it was on the Metro line, whose trains don’t have First Class so my guess would be that they’re most likely to be the ones that head north – the trains that go on the Brighton Mainline have first class compartments.

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  3. The Leyland National has always been a curate’s egg. As a bus, its strong point was the incredible strength and rigidity of its body. The weak parts were its engine and heating system. I can see the logic of using the National’s body as a cheap train carriage, but the chassis to which it was attached was, I understand, initially designed for carrying aggregate. The resulting train converted a curate’s egg into a pig’s ear.

    I’ve yet to find an upgraded Class 142 that addressed its problems decently. The appalling ride quality and noise could be mitigated by some decent insulation and comfortable seats. The air conditioning fitted in them (more commonly called doors) would not have suffered from being looked at by a half competent engineer.

    Disappointingly, the date for their withdrawal keeps creeping forward. Initially, i understood they were to be withdrawn by 2017. This appears to have stretched three years further and we’ll all be suffering their delights that much longer. I’ll bet even Northern Rail find that an appalling thought.

    Despite their shortcomings, a ride in a 142 always leaves me smiling; It’s never less than a pleasure to get off one.

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    1. I am waiting with not a little interest for the announcement of who will be awarded the next “Northern” franchise…and the type of franchise that will be awarded.

      We normally have Class 323 units on our line to Macclesfield, but Class 142 Pacers have been rostered in recent times to cover stock shortages.

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    2. Hi Paul,

      Definitely agree with you on the chassis problems, having endured many a squeal on Miles Platting myself. In comparison with Waggon und Maschinenbau railbus, the wheelbase between axles on the Class 14x series are longer than BR’s 1960s pioneering railbuses.

      Perhaps our engineers should have eschewed the axles over a standard set of bogies (hence the Class 153/155 DMUs and the Mark 1 bogies on the Leyland Experimental Coach from 1983). This would have enhanced the ride quality no end though increased axle load on the lightly used lines they were originally diagrammed for.

      I like how you refer to the doors as ‘air conditioning’. In the midst of a heatwave, the Pacer unit has its uses owing to the draughts, though the last DMU you wish to ride on in Arctic conditions. The toilet doors are narrow enough to encourage passengers to lose weight, and the rasp of a Pacer unit sounds friendlier than most DMUs. (These are the good points even though the ride can be horrendous on jointed tracks and most uncomfortable on the Merseytravel PTE style Class 142s).

      Who knows what our successor to the Pacer will be. Is somebody somewhere secretly developing a railbus with the body shell of an Enviro300? I hope not: something like the Class 172 would be ideal.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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      1. Stuart,

        I always refer to the Merseytravel 142s as Kidney Crushers. I know of no other seat whose design actually encourages you to stand as a more comfortable option. I’m no expert on engine noises but would concede that a 142 departing from Piccadilly is less audibly unpleasant than their more modern diesel brethren, Class 185s are especially loathsome on the ear.

        As far as the 142s’ replacement trains are concerned, I understand there is a definite reluctance to build any more diesel powered trains (DMUs, specifically) which means we are either going to get all our lines electrified or get old cast off DMUs that have been cascaded from elsewhere in the country. Anyone who believes this government is going to electrify our lines probably also believes Peter Pan was real. I’ve no real idea what we’ll get, but if I saw a 30 year old Class 158 turn up where a 142 used to operate, there would be no complaint.

        I have ultimately concluded that as long as there are Class 142s running on our services, my bicycle has no prospect of retiring.

        Best wishes and thanks for a thought provoking article,

        Paul

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      2. Hi Paul,

        I love the roar of the Class 142 over the Class 185, though prefer the comfort and ride quality of the latter. Even so, neither of them can beat the roar of a good Whistler, Tractor, Hoover or Chopper (Class 40, 37, 50 and 20 diesel locomotives for the benefit of non-rail enthusiasts reading this post).

        I totally agree with your description of the Merseytravel 142s. Since 2009, I’ve called them ‘Merseyfailers’ (seats rather than reliability). I’ve stood up when faced with one of these units, especially if the journey’s longer than 10 minutes. My bad experiences stem from an hour long journey from Southport to Manchester. It was packed, and this train left about 1615 or thereabouts. Not owing to shoppers, but the inclement weather: several others decided to leave early after being soaked watching the Southport Air Show. Suffice to say, that experience scarred me for life.

        I doubt as if in the next two decades we would see all our lines electrified. Anything besides the current projects from Liverpool – York. I doubt as if the Settle and Carlisle nor the Cumbrian Coast lines would be energised to the 25kV a.c system. Then again, there’s every chance the train-tram might be attractive in some urban areas. Therefore, there may still be a need for DMUs, albeit in a more limited capacity and mainly outside our major urban centres.

        More extensive electrification has been promised for the last 35 years. It was also pledged in Labour’s 1983 General Election manifesto (a.k.a ‘The Longest Suicide Note in History’ by Gerald Kaufman MP). We are still going to some years behind a fair number of mainland European countries, with or without HS2 and along with the Liverpool – Manchester – York scheme.

        Bye for now,

        Stuart.

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  4. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for another interesting article although I sure wont miss the pacers once gone! About the only positive aspect I can think of is the good visibility for those of us interested in where we are.. Perhaps of use for some scenic preservation line (at low line speed).
    Small point, I thought none of present DMU builds meet the new Euro emissions regs and, adding 2s together, consider this the driving force in DfTs sudden interest in extension of electrification and battery power research. If Pacers are to be replaced with other DMUs then presumably this will have to be with cascaded stock displaced from elsewhere on the network. I can’t see 172s being top of that list. (unfortunately)

    Mark

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    1. Hi Mark,

      Seconded on the good visibility aspects of the windows (thanks to the low height of the bus seats).

      You could well be right on the European Union emissions regulations as well as the 1995 DDA legislation. Interestingly, the Class 142s entered service a year after Greater Manchester Transport’s last Leyland Atlanteans arrived (EEC emissions legislation led to Leyland’s discontinuation of that model, hence the next GMT Standards being Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympians).

      I’ve always been in favour of electrification, but how do we know if the overhead line equipment is powered by renewable or non-renewable energy sources?

      I like the idea of a battery powered multiple unit. That could be a good idea for single carriage units on lightly used services. At end platforms, buffer stops could double as charging points, such as those seen for electric cars in Oldham and on Derker’s Metrolink station. I’m imagining the sight of a Class 153 style unit being charged for half a day at Newton Heath! Perhaps they could be called BMUs.

      The announcements if a unit goes flat could be:

      “Northern Rail would like to apologise for the late running of this service owing to a battery problem at Helsby Junction” because it hadn’t been charged long enough.

      British Railways have experimented with battery powered units before. A Derby Lightweight 2-car DMU was converted to battery power with lead acid batteries. It was used on the Aberdeen to Ballater route. Here’s hoping the future ones would be more successful. Or could we go a electric hybrid DMU instead?

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

      1. Hi Mark,

        I’ve just read Network Rail’s statement on battery powered multiple units and I like the idea. With most of Greater Manchester’s heavy rail routes likely to be under 25kV a.c. or 750V d.c. overhead line equipment, this may leave few lines for our Duracell Multiple Units.

        I don’t know if, and I pretty much doubt that in the next 10 years we shall see the electrification of Calder Valley line. However, I think traffic levels may be too heavy for battery operated units between Manchester Victoria and Leeds (via Halifax).

        The lines which I think are most suitable for BMUs:

        • Stourbridge Junction – Stourbridge Town (could replace the Parry People Mover);
        • Wrexham Central – Bidston;
        • Conwy Valley line [Llandudno – Blaenau Ffestiniog];
        • Rose Hill Marple – Manchester Piccadilly;
        • Cleethorpes – Barton-on-Humber;
        • Ormskirk – Preston.

        Bye for now,

        Stuart.

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      2. Hi Stuart,

        Looks very much like my list with perhaps the exception of Stourbridge Junction. I must admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for the Parry units considering them the modern day Pacer. The development rationale is much the same i.e. lightweight units for lightly used brachlines albeit without the crash worthiness to mix with the heavyweights on the mainline. If Parry’s publicity is to be believed they are also incredibly cheap to run. They may also be able to circumvent the emissions regs in that alternative energy sources have been suggested. (LPG and/or electric power boost points for the flywheels.) I feel their biggest drawback is in being a solution without a problem, there being few suitable locations for their utilisation.

        Merseyrail is, of course, currently seeking rolling stock replacement. I remember reading that the high cost of third rail extension Bidston – Wrexham compared to overhead electrification would warrant replacement with bi-mode electrics capable of drawing current from both OHLE and third rail source. (Something like a Class 319!) Since then the high cost of necessary lineside fencing improvement associated with OHLE has called the benefit to cost ratio (BCR) into question.

        BMU (or more correctly IPEMU) might be the perfect solution, dependent of course on viability of the concept and range away from the wires/third rail.
        Assuming that the concept turns out to be a “goer” then perhaps Merseyrail’s long held aspirations to extend Hunt’s Cross to Warrington, Kirby to Wigan, Chester to Runcorn and even L’pool to Edge Hill might stand much better development chance with the improved BCR. The much mooted Skelmersdale spur might even gain legs.

        I note your comment re most of the Manchester network being under the wires but it occurs to me that the same technology could presumably be applied to the Tramtrain proposals for Altringham to Chester for example. It is also worth noting the comment “This IPEMU could be used to bridge ‘gaps’ in otherwise electrified railways”. Like you I cannot foresee the Calder Valley Line being transversed on battery power alone but some strategically placed sections of electrified route permitting battery top up on the move might be sufficient to bridge the gap.

        Further if partial electrification was to be implemented it could avoid those damn pesky sections with bridges, tunnels or complex junctions with considerable cost savings.

        Further afield Scarborough might remain a TransPennine destination and I am currently trying to get my head around the Liverpool Norwich service! Now if it were to take the Chat Moss route, then battery Stockport to Sheffield, newly electrified Midland line to Nottingham…….etc, etc, etc

        Of course firstly the technology has got to work!

        By the way did you notice the extremely short (in railway terms) timetable for this project? Strikes me that DfT seem to caught in a “certain amount of hurry up required here” situation.

        Love your Northern Rail passenger announcement but surely driver should have checked battery level prior to departure. Tongue against terminals? Union agreement still awaited!

        Regards,

        Mark

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      3. Hi Mark,

        I’ve yet to have a ride on the Parry People Mover units, and I think they’ve got potential beyond the Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town line. Surely there must be scope for them to operate as a lightweight train-tram on some sort of a Town Centre Shuttle Service. With the present units that would mean the addition of raised platforms like light rail systems, and that initial costs could be more expensive. However, (if using Stourbridge town centre as example), this would not only mean better town centre penetration but also the fact a ticket to Stourbridge Town could also mean the town centre itself with stops along the A491 (St. John’s Road, Bath Road and New Road).

        Llandudno could be an ideal place for a similar system. Using a redundant bay in its railway station, could be space for a Class 139 unit and a little tramway to the promenade. In fact, there had been plans for a Parry People Mover tramway along the promenade (mentioned in a 1996 issue of Rail magazine).

        As for Kirkby to Wigan Wallgate, dual voltage units could be a good idea. Our train from Hunt’s Cross to Kirby could run under the third rail system. Then from Kirby onwards to Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge, courtesy of some infill electrification to 25kV north of Kirby to Wigan Wallgate. Or, extended third rail from Kirkby to Warrington Central with dual purpose EMUs to Manchester Piccadilly (over the 25kV east of Warrington Central).

        On rail forums and other forums like Skyscraper City, there has been references to the possibilities of train-tram. Like yourself, they have favoured Chester – Northwich – Altrincham. Some have considered the Rose Hill Marple route via Hyde Central a suitable candidate.

        I had geology as well as passenger capacity as a reason against battery powered multiple units on the Calder Valley route. Scarborough to Liverpool Lime Street could remain a Transpennine Express destination, whether running under the wires as a DMU, or over 25kV from Liverpool to York, then battery from York to Scarborough. York could be a charging point as well as Scarborough. A modern day answer to the water tower.

        Back to the Parry People Mover. Our friends in Cradley Heath are developing a bogie version of the PPM, which is known as the PPM120 (link). Could this form part of the next generation Pacer unit? It looks interesting, and I could imagine a 2 car Pacer successor looking similar (PPM220 anyone?).

        Bye for now,

        Stuart.

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  5. Don’t forget there are still some lines which Pacers are banned from for example there not allowed from Hazel Grove-Buxton and until recent trackwork was done they were banned from Blackburn-Clitheroe line but now on odd occasions they can be found up there.

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the ex Arriva Trains Northern (Northern Spirit) refurbished 142s which have 2×2 seating all the way through and their nice ambient calming dim lighting but an on going refurbishment of these units is seeing these units gaining brighter lighting units, interior repaints and all seating retrimmed into Northern moquette

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    1. Hi Andrew,

      I didn’t know about them being banned on the Hazel Grove – Buxton line. Could it be the sharp curves, particularly those after Furness Vale?

      In a previous article on Pacer units (search for ‘nodding donkeys Greater Manchester’ on Google – First Result in!), I mentioned the Tyne and Wear ones. When I used to commute from Altrincham, I would return home on the Rose Hill Marple train for Hyde North, and was always happy to receive the former NEXUS ones. I even had the joy of boarding one from Bradford Interchange to Manchester Victoria and it was quite a good ride (though I would have preferred a Class 155 or 158).

      For me, it was the plush cushions on the NEXUS ones, and they were higher up my Pacer pecking order than most.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

  6. The Conway Valley line is somewhat different in length and terrain encountered on its route to Blaenau Ffestiniog than the other more less demanding routes put forward in the list of suggested lines and one that I hope would see electrification as an adjunct to the electrification of the North Wales coast line. The Welsh Assembly has to decide that all things “non-Valley Lines” are not heretical against its current political beliefs.

    I have seen comments on other forums that the Merseyrail 3rd rail electrification should be extended to the Bidston to Wrexham Central line but about ten times more postings with a multitudinous range of political and operational reasons why this will never occur.

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    1. Hi Paul,

      I would love to see the Conwy Valley line electrified, as part of any future electrification between Holyhead, Chester and Warrington/Crewe. Nowadays, the North Wales ‘racetrack’ route could be losing out to the A55, and an electrified North Wales line could be attractive to Transpennine Express (and enable them to restore the Holyhead – Hull route).

      Interesting as to why there’s been much bellyaching over the Wrexham – Bidston electrification plans. From sources I’ve just seen (from 2006 till this year), some claim Network Rail have been overpricing the works.

      I have found a recent statement from GOV.UK published this Thursday from the Welsh Office:

      https://www.gov.uk/government/news/welsh-secretary-economic-potential-of-wrexham-bidston-electrification-is-significant

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  7. The Parry People Mover has been mention on this thread, so I ask if anyone else has heard a rumour that the company who produce these units are experiencing financial difficulties at this present time.

    Something that I gleaned from one of the business websites that I visit.

    Like

  8. also re your comment

    “Beyond 2020, there’s ever chance that most of our Pacer units should be on the scrap heap, but time is running out if the 2019 to 2020 deadline needs to be fulfilled.”

    Porterbrook may not be in such a hurry to write them off, see

    http://dg8design.com/143.html

    Cheers,

    Mark

    .

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    1. Hi Mark,

      If implemented, the best instance of ‘polishing a turd’. A boon for its intended market [Cardiff Valleys], but no improvements in capacity for Greater Manchester passengers stuck with Pacer units (bigger trains are needed other than the Class 142s).

      Now, if the Pacers looked like DG8 Design’s examples, it might change my opinion of the units. For worse in Greater Manchester during the peak hours, or for better on branch lines or shuttle services.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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