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”

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”

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”

Greater Manchester Set to Lose Another 17 Trains

Anger as bankers move electric trains to the West Midlands

Class 323 EMU, Manchester Piccadilly station
The Class 323s first arrived in Greater Manchester in 1996, originally for services to and from Manchester Airport. Following issues with Railtrack’s Safety Case, the Hunslet TPL built units’ introduction was delayed by two years. They first appeared on the Hadfield line in November 1997, replacing slam-door Class 305s.

Almost a year after the DfT’s imposition of an evening peak for Greater Manchester’s rail users comes another body blow. Porterbrook Leasing, who owns most of Britain’s trains has refused to offer 17 Class 323 electric trains to Northern Rail’s successors in 2016.

Instead, the rolling stock leasing company (owned by Alberta Investment Management Corporation, Allianz Capital Partners, EDF Invest and Hastings Fund Management) has decided to move them to the West Midlands. At present, the Centro West Midlands boundary sees a number of local services utilising Class 323, and the move allows for greater standardisation. The reason, to reduce maintenance costs. Continue reading “Greater Manchester Set to Lose Another 17 Trains”

A Northern Snub? Trans-Pennine Electrification ‘Paused’

Northern Powerhouse project put on back burner

Stalybridge Station, signal gantry
Nowhere Fast: the pausing of Trans-Pennine electrification plans is set to see most of Northern England condemned to another decade or so of ancient diesel trains.

The Northern Powerhouse has been dealt a body blow as plans to electrify the Trans-Pennine route have been ‘paused’. As quoted in Hansard, the Secretary of State for Transport, The Right Honourable Patrick McLoughlin MP (Conservative, Derbyshire Dales) stated that: Continue reading “A Northern Snub? Trans-Pennine Electrification ‘Paused’”

Transpennine Express’ Electric Dreams Come True

New Class 350 EMUs to reach Ardwick by Christmas

185129 and 350237 at Liverpool Lime Street
Seen at Liverpool Lime Street, one of the old order and a taste of Transpennine Express’ future rolling stock. Photograph by Joshua Brown (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike).

First/Keolis Transpennine Express’ already modern fleet is set to be augmented by ten 4-car electric trains.  The Siemens Desiro EMUs are set to reach Liverpool and Ardwick depots by December. The new trains will cost £60 million with the addition of EMU depots in Preston and Liverpool. Continue reading “Transpennine Express’ Electric Dreams Come True”