Old South Yorkshire trains now safe after modifications

Back on track: Old 'Pacer' train still in use after safety modifications.
Back on track: Old 'Pacer' train still in use after safety modifications.
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modifications have been made to old trains in use around South Yorkshire after concerns about their safety.

Operator Northern said its fleet of bus-style Pacer trains, which date back to the 1980s, has undergone the work after they were deemed unsafe in 1999 when a carriage was almost demolished when hit by an express train at 50mph.

Stuart Draper, engineering director for Northern Rail, which runs most local services around South Yorkshire, said: “Our Pacer trains do absolutely meet current safety standards and have all undergone a programme of crash-worthiness modification. Since concerns were raised in 1999, there have been improvements to the stock and the issues have been addressed.

“It is well-documented that Pacers are some of the oldest trains on the UK rail network, however, they undergo the same rigorous safety checks as other fleets.

“Northern has a safety certificate which embraces all operation and maintenance of our fleet of trains and this is awarded by the safety regulator, the Office of Rail Regulation.

“The Pacer trains we operate are fully compliant with safety legislation.”

Modifications have included fitting brackets to the underframe of the carriages to ensure the main body of the train does not separate from the wheelbase in a collision.

Northern said it was also carrying out a refurbishment programme for all its 290 trains, which is more than two-thirds complete, and involves upgrading the interiors to improve comfort.

Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg has raised the problems of old trains on Northern’s network with the Department for Transport.

All Northern’s trains used in South Yorkshire date from at least 1989.

The firm pays millions of pounds each year to bank-owned leasing companies, which are supposed to invest in new trains in return.