Competition launched as Pacer trains retire from passenger service

Community groups can now submit their ideas on how an old Pacer carriage could be converted into a vibrant public asset
Community groups can now submit their ideas on how an old Pacer carriage could be converted into a vibrant public asset

Community groups can now submit their ideas on how an old Pacer carriage could be converted into a vibrant public asset, as the Department for Transport (DfT) officially launches its Pacer competition at Bolton Station.

After more than three decades of passenger service, Pacers are being retired from the rail network. New and entirely refurbished trains are now running right across the Northern network, serving Doncaster, Liverpool, Preston, Manchester, Cumbria and Harrogate.

Rolling stock company Porterbrook is supporting the competition by making three Pacer carriages available to be converted to serve communities in a new way off the rail network.

The DfT is encouraging community groups to submit creative and innovative ideas for converting these carriages over the summer.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones said: “The Pacer trains have been carrying passengers for over 30 years, but they have outstayed their welcome and are being replaced by modern trains and extra services, creating space for thousands more passengers. This competition is now open for ideas, and I look forward seeing a host of exciting proposals to provide them with a new home off the tracks.”

The competition will run until the end of September and a judging panel, including heritage rail entrepreneur Pete Waterman, will pick the winners. The winners will be announced later this year.

Rail entrepreneur and judging panel Chair Pete Waterman said: “I’m delighted to be chairing the judging panel to oversee the proposals put forward ensuring they are realistic, credible and provide a real benefit to wider northern communities.”

More than 100 new trains will be rolled out by Northern from this year, together with new trains on the TransPennine Express network as well, offering more comfortable seats and improved accessibility.