New Northern rail fleet unveiled as 30-year-old pacer trains are to be replaced

The first of Northern’s new modern fleet of trains is due off the production line in a matter of weeks as the rail operator pledges to replace its 30-year-old Pacer trains by the end of 2018.

It’s part of Northern’s mission to provide an extra 2,000 services every week with the new trains set to reach speeds of 100mph. The outdated Pacers were originally designed to have a working life of ten years but many are still used in the majority of northern towns and cities.

The new 98-strong fleet will be fully-accessible and equipped with Wi-Fi and Northern managing director David Brown has hailed the end of the year as a “landmark moment”. 

“This is a landmark moment for Northern and rail travel in the north of England," said Brown. "We are introducing 98 new electric and diesel trains which will significantly improve journeys and the travel experience of our customers across the region. As well as looking like 21st century trains, our new state-of-the-art units will be capable of travelling at 100mph, will have wifi, plug sockets at every seat, will be air conditioned and fully accessible. Our modernisation programme is gathering pace and the promises we made at the start of the franchise are really taking shape. Alongside our new trains we have delivered more than 70 refurbished trains which are already helping customers go about their daily lives with greater reliability and comfort," he said.

Once completed the new units will be sent to the Czech Republic for testing, before further trials in the UK. They are being introduced as part of a programme which has also seen more than 70 trains refurbished. The Northern franchise was awarded to Arriva Rail North in 2015 after the government required companies bidding to take over the franchise to replace the trains by 2020.

"We have also started a significant station improvement scheme (Better Stations) which has already seen more than 100 stations upgraded,” Brown said. “This work will continue for the next 18 months as we further improve waiting areas, seating, lighting and customer information. By 2020 we will also be operating an extra 2,000 services every week meaning our customers will not only have better trains and stations, they will also have improved options to get them to where they need to be.”

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