What is more frustrating, the exit of Britain from the EU or the departing event of the 'undesirable' Pacer train? Within a few days of Northern celebrating the introduction of the new Spanish built CAF train sets it has now been said some services will still see the Pacer train in early 2020.
Originally planned to be pulled out of service early this year the Department of Transport claim due to manufacturing delays and with technical issues some of the routes will still have Pacers running on them, despite breaking the new legislation deadlines on accessibility for people with disabilities.
Better than expected
According to a member of Northern staff they said "They are very excited to have the new sets in service but there are also over 1000 northern staff members who need to be trained up on these units".
"The new CAF trains are clearer to look down the length of the train. This way a guard can get through the passage quicker to deal with customers and operate the doors.
The windows are larger than some of the other trains, making it easier to watch out the platforms for passenger safety."
It's felt some of the issues and failures to run services since the electrification upgrades had nothing to do with Northern. The mainstream media seem to have an axe to grind in portraying nothing but negativity and should be focusing on what Northern are actually pushing ahead with.
A product of issues with the new stock, RMT action, manufacturing delays and a reduced number of available paths from Network Rail resulting in some of the 'Connect' services being scrapped.
The technical issue found this year was not Northern's fault. The first CAF train set had to do 1500 miles of route testing before it could be signed off.
During this period a coupling problem of just 5mm was found to be fowling the unit once running. CAF engineers and mechanic have been working hard to resolve this issue and are confident it's all being sorted.
It's anticipated a revised 'Northern Connect' service will now be rolled out over the next 12 months rather than being in operation now.
With the new refurbished stock Northern will be providing more services per week than the franchise agreement required and are still strong minded to start removing Pacer trains off the Northern network later this Summer.
Ben Ackroyd, Northern’s Engineering Director, said: “Our 100th refurbished train going into service is another great milestone in our modernisation programme. We are committed to improving our customers’ on-board experience and the refurbishment programme is really gathering pace.
“The refurbishment of our fleet is an ongoing programme of work and, ultimately, our customers will be travelling on trains which are not only cosmetically better, but will also all feature free wifi, at seat power, high definition CCTV and customer information media screens.”
Northern’s new trains are part of the largest modernisation programme in a generation that is transforming travel in the north of England. It is currently fully refurbishing its existing fleet of 243 trains, improving its stations and has introduced over 2,000 extra services every week since 2016.