Last ever pacer train squeaks to a halt in Wales – after equivalent of five trips to the Moon and back
The final pacer train has left service in Wales, having travelled the equivalent of five trips to the moon and back during its service.
Until Saturday, Wales was the only place on earth where pacer trains, built by British Rail in the early 1980s with a planned lifespan of 15-20 years, were still in operation.
The railbuses were intended as a short-term solution to a shortage of rolling stock
The trains were due to be phased out in Wales on 1 January 2020 but the Department for Transport gave the Welsh Government three extensions due to no replacement stock being available.
“The final Class 143 trains – 143601 and 143609 – ran their last services on the South Wales valleys network on Saturday 29 May, having operated the equivalent of over five trips to the Moon and back during their working lives,” Transport for Wales said.
Train YouTuber Geoff Marshall rode on the last Pacer train and posted a video of the journey.
Meanwhile, testing has begun on brand new Transport for Wales trains which are due to enter service from next year.
The first two of a fleet of 77 new Class 197s diesel trains ordered Spanish manufacturer CAF are currently being tested in the north of Wales.
The bodyshells of the trains were built in Beasain in the north of Spain before final assembly at CAF’s £30m factory in the Celtic Business Park near Llanwern Steelworks, Newport, which now employs more than 200 people.
“The Class 197s will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network. We look forward to welcoming passengers onto the new trains from next year,” said Transport for Wales Chief Executive James Price.
“We’re delighted with the quality of the trains and proud that final assembly has taken place in Newport, supporting highly-skilled jobs and bringing further employment to the area.”
The trains have features such as air conditioning and leather seats in first class, along with a smart seat reservation system, which are downloaded from the reservation computer for each journey.
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So, if the Pacers have been withdrawn, and the new rolling stock isn’t due until next year, what are they using in the interim?
Past experience would suggest London cast offs.
Class 170s, Class 769s, and Class 153s. All refurbished stopgaps from elsewhere.