Department For Transport launches scheme to bring new life to withdrawn Pacer units
Has April Fool’s Day 2020 been brought forward? The Department For Transport have conjured up a wheeze to bring new life to the Pacer family of trains. What you may be relieved to find is that continued use on our permanent way is out of the question.
Though a handful may be preserved on heritage lines with one going to the National Railway Museum, other uses have been suggested. Rail Minister Andrew Jones M.P. has suggested that the ‘nodding donkeys’ could be used for community facilities. For example, as a community space; a village hall; or a café.
If you have lived with these units for more than three decades, you might find this story a bit of an insult. You might be happy to see the back of them and hope C.F. Booth torches the bedsteads before you can say “this train has two carriages” at 6pm. On Platform 6 at Manchester Victoria station.
The Department For Transport is giving community groups the option to bid for the withdrawn diesel trains. On that note, this means you cannot have a Pacer carriage in your back garden. This means The Yew Tree Inn in Thornham cannot buy a set and paint it in Pullman livery as a tribute to the carriage the pub used to have.
The competition launches this summer. Full details should be available on the Department For Transport’s web pages within the next month or two.
What Could You Do With a Fallen Pacer?
Besides the cutter’s torch, we at East of the M60 have a few suggestions.
- Public art: as Workington is the birthplace of the Pacer unit (via the Leyland National bus), one in British Rail Provincial Livery should be placed on Lillyhall roundabout.
- Sports pavilions: half a Pacer unit could make for a good crown green bowling/flat green bowling club pavilion.
- Café: not the most original idea (Andrew Jones M.P. suggested this by the way), but the toilet block could be converted into a disabled toilet whereas the front part could be used for a kitchen and counter.
- A community cinema: with the windows darkened, the Pacer’s seating layout is favourable for 2+2 tip-up seats. Again, the toilet could be converted into a disabled toilet.
- Art studio space: in service, the Pacer family’s redeeming features are its windows which are good for natural light.
- Allotment potting sheds: sliced into one or two window sections, the modular sections from the Pacers’ National roots could make for easy conversion into potting sheds.
- Bus shelters: two window sections of a Pacer could be converted into an adequate bus shelter with a cantilever roof. Sounds familiar? The original shelters on the long closed Victoria Bus Station in Salford came from withdrawn Salford Corporation trams.
- Pie huts: for a North West Counties Football League side, a two window section – or half a Pacer unit set could be converted into a pie hut and/or canteen. Historically, railway carriages have been used for refreshment points in non-league football grounds.
Do you have any more ideas? Feel free to add to this list.
S.V., 28 May 2019.