Pacers will return to passenger services in the North West, running on the Southport-Manchester/Alderley Edge route.
They are needed because of the delayed introduction of four-car Class 769 FLEX bi-modes.
Northern confirmed in June that it was keeping 33 Pacers for the rest of the year (RAIL 907), having received dispensation from Government to extend their withdrawal deadline until the end of the year. None of the 13 Class 142s or 20 Class 144s that are being retained meet accessibility regulations, and initially they were to be kept as a contingency.
The ‘769s’ were needed to cover for delays to electrification projects in the North West, but were themselves delayed during their conversion from Class 319 electric multiple units. While all eight ordered have been delivered (Northern is leasing them from Porterbrook), crews are unable to carry out driver training on them due to social distancing rules because of COVID-19.
A Northern spokesman told RAIL: “This is not a decision we have made lightly, but it is necessary as we are unable to run the Class 769 bi-mode trains as planned."
- For the FULL story, read RAIL 908, published on July 1, and available digitally from June 27.
- For the FULL story regarding the extension of the dispensation for Northern Pacers, read RAIL 907, out now.