Class 142, Newton Heath depot

Back By Unpopular Demand: Northern’s Pacer Units

Nodding Donkeys ‘home’ till Christmas

Today, East of the M60 has learned that a small number of the universally derided Class 142 Pacer units will be making a comeback on Northern rail services. Thirteen of the units will be reinstated to provide extra capacity, and to ensure that social distancing practices will be maintained.

Continue reading “Back By Unpopular Demand: Northern’s Pacer Units”
Class 142, Newton Heath depot

What Can You Do With a Fallen Pacer?

Department For Transport launches scheme to bring new life to withdrawn Pacer units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.

Continue reading “What Can You Do With a Fallen Pacer?”

Packed Pacer Problem Solved for 2019 Deadline

East of the M60 EXCLUSIVE: Nodding Donkeys become beautiful bi-modes with revolutionary technology

  • 10-car Pacers set for DDA compliant overhaul;
  • New breed of Nodding Donkeys go electric.
40 more years? Imagine these units, only five times longer, with a pantograph, a steam funnel and a tender.

Set to carry on for a longer period of time than the UK’s Brexit negotiations is the fate of Northern’s Pacer units. Due to disability legislation, the much-maligned family of diesel units were scheduled for withdrawal in 2019. In reality, the delivery of Northern’s replacements have delayed the Pacer family’s withdrawal. So much so that one of the units scheduled for inclusion in the National Railway Museum’s collection is still in service.

According to reports from an informed source, East of the M60 can confirm that the Pacer family of units will be seeing continued service for another 40 years.

Continue reading “Packed Pacer Problem Solved for 2019 Deadline”

Straight Outta Bolton: A Passenger’s Eye View of Overcrowding on Northern Trains

In Pictures: The Evening Crush Hour

Over the last six months, there has been a lot of coverage on the Southern Rail strike and the cancellations faced by its commuters. The main reason for the strike is the introduction of Driver Only Operation on 8 to 12 car units. That’s right: 8 to 12 carriages, without a guard.
Continue reading “Straight Outta Bolton: A Passenger’s Eye View of Overcrowding on Northern Trains”

Defining Features of Northern Rail’s Franchise: The Not So Perfect Ten

Ten key characteristics of Serco/Abellio’s 12-year franchise term

Class 158, platform 2, Preston railway station
The Class 158 DMU, one of Northern Rail’s more classy rolling stock, seen at Preston station. Alongside its incumbent 158s, there will be further examples, cascaded from Scotrail. These will be diagrammed for Arriva Trains North’s Northern Connect express services.

By the start of next month, the Northern franchise will be taken over by Arriva/Deutsche Bahn Rail. This will be Arriva’s second stint with a Northern English heavy rail franchise (the previous being Arriva Trains Northern) and, most notably, it entails the withdrawal of Class 142 and Class 144 railbuses. Continue reading “Defining Features of Northern Rail’s Franchise: The Not So Perfect Ten”

Serco Loses Northern Franchise to Arriva

FirstGroup and Keolis retain Transpennine Express franchise

  • Pacers peddled with new rolling stock in place;
  • Evolution of Smart Ticketing and free WiFi at stations;
  • New connections throughout Northern England.

The Department for Transport today [09 December] has awarded the Northern franchise to Arriva/DB Regio today. As part of their franchise, the unpopular Class 142 and 144 Pacer units will be scrapped. In their place would be a mix of brand new and nearly new rolling stock. Their franchise term will be active from April 2016 to March 2025. Continue reading “Serco Loses Northern Franchise to Arriva”

Slam Door Trains We Have Known and Loved: The Not So Perfect Ten

A good excuse to reminisce about pre-privatisation diesel and electric multiple units

Alongside today’s Pacers and Sprinters, our first generation EMUs and DMUs were known in the late 1980s as Heritage Units. The bulk of which being slam-door trains. Continue reading “Slam Door Trains We Have Known and Loved: The Not So Perfect Ten”

EX30 and Beyond: Greater Manchester and the Leyland National

How Leyland’s revolutionary single decker began 42 years of National service within Greater Manchester

SELNEC Leyland National
EX30, seen on the turning circle outside the Greater Manchester Museum of Transport.

For your maximum enjoyment, this article is best read in conjunction with the Not So Perfect Ten article on Experimental SELNEC and GMT Buses Since 1969. Thank you.

For many people, 1971 meant Decimalisation, hot pants and T-Rex. In the bus world, the orange and white of SELNEC made its presence known throughout today’s TfGM boundaries; in our living rooms, 10 million homes tuned in to the antics of Stan Butler and company in London Weekend Television’s On The Buses. Instead of the fictitious Luxton, Lillyhall was the UK bus industry’s centre of gravity. A legacy that would outlive LWT’s series by several years. Not only on our streets, but also on our railways. Continue reading “EX30 and Beyond: Greater Manchester and the Leyland National”

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. Continue reading “Twin Squeaks: Know Your Pacer Units”

Know Your Sprinters: The Class 150 Series of DMUs

An easy to digest guide to Sprinter units

On our railways, the Sprinter family of diesel multiple units have formed the mainstay of provincial services for nearly 30 years. Today, they are still common with Greater Manchester and South Wales happy hunting grounds for the DMUs. With longer distance routes covered by more modern units (i.e Siemens’ Desiros), Sprinter units of various degrees are seen on local services. Continue reading “Know Your Sprinters: The Class 150 Series of DMUs”