Passengers using Northern services have endured a torrid time, travelling in trains which are overcrowded and past their ‘best by’ date. On July 1, the first of a fleet of 101 Class 195 and 331 trains was introduced, which is expected to start and alleviate some of the problems. Chris Milner samples both trains.
FOR several years, passengers have taken the promise from Government and the rail industry ‘Pacers’ will be replaced’ with a pinch of salt. With several delays and false starts, who can blame them? However, the reality is that the ‘Pacer’ replacement programme has finally begun.
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On July 1, Northern (a franchise operated by Arriva) introduced its new Class 195 DMU and Class 331 EMU on to nine diagrams.
When the invitation to tender for the next Northern franchise period from April 2016 was issued, it was stipulated the new franchisee had to replace the Class 142/144 ‘Pacer’ fleet.
Not only were they life expired, but by the end of 2019 they would no longer meet changing disability regulations. In addition, passengers have higher aspirations in respect of train travel, and expect and deserve better. The new trains begin to meet this.
Arriva took the view the poor quality ‘Pacer’ stock is an obstacle to enticing new passengers over to rail, and by investing in new modern trains it would act as a catalyst for passenger growth.
New fleets – not only for Northern, but introduced into other franchises as well – would also permit a cascade of other units to Northern, so as to strengthening services in a bid to combat some of the cancellations and overcrowding that has been at the forefront of transport news in the north for too long.
Read more and view more images in the August 2019 issue of The RM – on sale now!