The Welsh Liberal Democrats have branded as a “disgrace” a decision to keep pacer trains on in Wales for another year – noting that they were scrapped in Tehran 15 years ago.
Wales is now the only place on earth where pacer trains, built by British Rail in the early 1980s with a planned lifespan of 15-20 years, are still in operation.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Rodney Berman said that Transport for Wales and Ken Skates should apologise to travellers for the failure to replace the trains with new stock.
“The news that passengers will continue to travel on these dilapidated and unsuitable trains for many more months will be a blow to thousands of passengers who have been let down time and time again with the promise of replacement trains,” he said.
“South Wales is now the only part of the UK and indeed the world where these pacer trains are in use. They are so old that one is currently on display at the National Rail Museum in York!
“Before the COVID pandemic passengers were regularly complaining of overcrowding and the Welsh Government have had years to prepare for this yet are no closer to scrapping these trains once and for all.
“Passengers are owed an apology.”
The pacer trains were finally due to be disposed of last year as they did not meet disability regulations that came into force on 1 January 2020.
But it was revealed today that the trains have been given their third dispensation in just over a year to continue in service.
The Department for Transport has given the Welsh Government three extension in 2020 due to no replacement stock being available.
The railbuses were intended as a short-term solution to a shortage of rolling stock. At the start of 2020, they were still used by three National Rail operators: Northern Trains, Great Western Railway and Transport for Wales.
Northern Trains retired its last Pacer unit in November, with Great Western Railway following earlier this month.
British Rail sold 12 pacer trains to Iran in 2001, where they served Tehran’s suburban lines continuing in service before being scrapped around 2005.