Mayor Dan Jarvis calls on Northern Rail to give discounts to South Yorkshire passengers travelling on 'relic' Pacer trains

South Yorkshire metro mayor Dan Jarvis has called on Northern Rail to offer discounts to passengers who travel on their heavily-criticised Pacer trains.

Monday, 21st October 2019, 1:20 pm
Updated Friday, 25th October 2019, 12:56 pm
Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis has called on Northern Rail to offer discounts for passengers travelling on Pacer trains. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Northern should have retired the ageing stock by the end of 2019 but announced earlier this year they would continue to operate on lines in South Yorkshire and northern England into 2020.

Pacers were rolled out in the 1980s as rail-buses which were meant to be used as a short-term alternative for trains.

They were originally constructed from the body of a bus frame with an intended lifespan of 20 years.

A Pacer train at Mexborough Station. Picture: Barry Richardson/The Star

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In a letter sent to Northern Rail managing director David Brown, jointly signed by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and Leeds Council leader Judith Blake, the leaders express their ‘deep disappointment and frustration’ and say passengers have the ‘right to expect a reliable, quality service’.

The letter asks Northern to commit to reducing fares on those routes on which pacer trains remain in operation, until the trains are replaced with upgraded trains next year.

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “This is yet another example of rail passengers in the North being treated like second-class citizens.

“It’s unacceptable that people will have to continue travel on these relics, which should have been consigned to a transport museum long ago.

“A reduction in fares on affected routes, throughout the period that passengers have to travel on what are essentially buses on rails, is the very least that could be done.

“I expect Northern to do the right thing and compensate its passengers.”

A Northern spokesman said: "As a result of further delays in the construction and delivery of our new trains from manufacturer CAF, a small number of Pacer units will need to be retained for a short period of time in 2020 to deliver the planned daily timetable with the right capacity for our customers. This situation is not unique to Northern.

"From today we will have 29 of our 101 new trains in service for customers and a further 27 new trains are in final testing or being used for driver training.

"The introduction of new trains from July meant the first Pacer was retired in August, with the majority of Pacers still planned to be removed by the end of this year.

"We agree the North deserves the best possible rail service and are working hard to improve performance and reliability for customers."