Retired pacers could become a ‘community space or village hall’, claims government

Retired pacer trains could be turned into a community space, a café or even a new village hall, under new plans announced by the Department for Transport (DfT).

This summer, the DfT will launch a competition offering community groups the opportunity to put forward their plans to convert a Pacer into a new public space.

The pacers, many of which have been in operation since the 1970s, will finally be replaced with new and refurbished trains across the northern network from this year.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones said: ‘Through this competition we can ensure that the Pacer can be transformed to serve a community near where it carried passengers in an entirely different way.

‘What we need now are creative and exciting proposals from the public, alongside ideas from businesses keen to support this competition, as we say goodbye to Pacers on our railway.

‘The Pacers have been the workhorses of the north’s rail network, connecting communities for more than 30 years, but it is clear that they have outstayed their welcome.

‘That is why they are being phased out completely to make way for new or fully-refurbished trains.’

The Pacer will be donated by rolling stock company Porterbrook.

Over than 100 new trains will be rolled out by Northern and TransPennine Express from this year to replace the ageing pacers, which have been a common source of complaint from commuters.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said the addition of new trains will encourage a ‘thriving Northern Powerhouse.’

‘Replacing Pacers with a brand new fleet of trains is not just great news for passengers, it now provides this exciting opportunity for our grassroots community groups across the north to bring people together through this competition.

‘I travelled to school on a Pacer train and I look forward to getting on board again to see how these old carriages will continue to provide a valuable service for many years to come.’

For further information or to get involved in the competition, email

Photo credit – Michael Thomas.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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