‘Unsafe’ train probe pledge

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USE of old trains on rail lines in South Yorkshire is to be investigated by the Government after concerns were raised by Nick Clegg.

The Deputy Prime Minister was alarmed to read stories in The Star, published over the last fortnight, about continued use of lightweight bus-style Pacer trains on main lines when they were declared unsafe more than a decade ago due to poor crash-resistance.

The Sheffield Hallam MP and Lib Dem leader has also passed on reports about how local services in South Yorkshire, operated by Northern, have not received any new trains since 1989 - when the company pays millions of pounds each year to banks which own rolling stock.

They are supposed to invest in new trains in return but new fleets have been sent to other lines, mainly in the South East of England.

The bank-owned rolling stock companies receive 11p of every £1 of rail fares paid by passengers.

Mr Clegg has passed on the reports from The Star to transport minister Norman Baker.

A spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minister said: “Nick has raised this issue with the Lib Dem transport minister Norman Baker. They both share the concerns that the Pacers are old and sub-standard and the Government is looking to introduce additional rolling stock on the network.

“The long-term issue of how we pay for and organise the railways is being looked into by transport expert Sir Roy McNulty. The Government will examine his report before deciding how to act in due course.”

Pacer trains which are used for the bulk of local services by train operator Northern date back to 1985. They are used between Sheffield and Leeds, Doncaster and Worksop and on the Penistone and Hope Valley lines.