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KeithMacdonald

New roles for Pacer trains

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I've just read that:
 

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Before he left the department the former transport secretary, Chris Grayling, wanted to publicise the phasing out of the Pacer trains so despised by commuters. Grayling joked that he wanted to ‘blow up’ a Pacer train in a populist move to demonstrate the government’s understanding of the public’s widespread detestation of them. In response, Gavin Williamson, who was at the time Defence Secretary, offered to lend him a tank…

Whilst the photo op would have secured an incredible redemptive legacy for the former minister, the explosive imagery was never sanctioned, with the government instead looking at turning the hated “buses on train wheels” into public spaces for social enterprises. The Department of Transport is running a competition to award 3 carriages to the best 3 community projects put forward.

 

 

Always trust the civil service to ruin everyone’s fun…

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3 hours ago, lmsforever said:

Let them become baked bean cans and please don't preserve any.

 

As far as I know none have become baked bean cans ... but you can ride on a preserved one at the Midland Railway, butterley!!!

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Boat anchors? Viking funerals? Punish Iran by sending them to join the 141s?

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Without Pacers, many of the Norths rural routes wouldn't exist today.

 

Someone said replace those routes with buses, and thats exactly what they did... wasnt an original test pacer designed for the driver to collect fares too ?

 

i doubt places like Blackburn, Blackpool South, Walkden, Burscough Bridge, Oldham, Helifield, Ormskirk, Morecambe would have still been on the rail map if it wasn't for them.

 

With demise of pacers and recent political announcements I suspect some may end up at risk again.

 

 

Edited by adb968008
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55 minutes ago, adb968008 said:

Without Pacers, many of the Norths rural routes wouldn't exist today.

 

Someone said replace those routes with buses, and thats exactly what they did... wasnt an original test pacer designed for the driver to collect fares too ?

 

i doubt places like Blackburn, Blackpool South, Walkden, Burscough Bridge, Oldham, Helifield, Ormskirk, Morecambe would have still been on the rail map if it wasn't for them.

 

With demise of pacers and recent political announcements I suspect some may end up at risk again.

 

Oldham is already off the rail map... (tram conversion)

 

With rail travel having picked up since the 80s I'd hope that all the locations served by Pacers are reasonably secure. For all the understandable dislike Pacers get they did a job that helped keep those lines and locations going through a rough patch and deserve to be acknowledged for that, but I think we're through that patch now.

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2 hours ago, Reorte said:

Oldham is already off the rail map... (tram conversion)

 

With rail travel having picked up since the 80s I'd hope that all the locations served by Pacers are reasonably secure. For all the understandable dislike Pacers get they did a job that helped keep those lines and locations going through a rough patch and deserve to be acknowledged for that, but I think we're through that patch now.

Unfortunately i’m not confident, 142’s delayed the pain that may someday return through political ineptitude, rather than lack of demand.

 

I have to hope not, but I've no faith in politicians trying to run railways, for anything other than political gain, or to pander to various local government lobbyists.

 

Ive just seen my local MP get £1m to put lifts at my local station.. big thumbs up eh ? What was neglected was that to build that lift to the platform 2 ,contractors reinstated the footpath and ramp from the main road, that used to be open 50 years ago, to allow themselves step free access to that platform 2 on which to build it, something local passengers had been asking to be reinstated, for years... as today you have to walk up the hill to the station, only to walk down stairs and under plat 1 to gain access to plat 2.

 

Now again you might think lifts for disabled are better than ramps ?

 

However the new lift only gives access to the station exit on the other platform, 1, which today you have to get street access to via.. you guessed it.. a ramped road up to the platform.

 

Oh and in doing so, they sealed the old second exit from 50 years ago permanently by building the new lift in front of it, and are removing that new temporary ramp, now construction is complete.

 

Carshalton station is the one I refer to, it has 1m passengers a year, and a new shiny lift that doesn't really benefit anyone, able or disable bodied/prams etc arriving without a car for either platform...and as the station isn't known for its parking, and has good bus services at the bottom of that hill ..thats the majority of its 1m users, including PRM passengers.

 

so a low cost ramp could have provided for free as as well as the lift, giving the station much more useful second exit/entry and still had to be built in order to build the lift.. which now needs expensive annual maintenance.

 

But the MP gets nice headlines that appeals to his lobbyists, but does nothing for anyone really that couldn't have been achieved in a far more economic and sensible way with much greater benefits.

Edited by adb968008
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Remember too they kept British factories in work building them , something few of the replacement fleets do

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Remember they were only supposed to be short term solution to cover a rollingstock shortage and only had a design life of 15 years. They should have been replaced 20 years ago.

 

Cheers

David

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1 hour ago, DavidB-AU said:

Remember they were only supposed to be short term solution to cover a rollingstock shortage and only had a design life of 15 years. They should have been replaced 20 years ago.

 

Cheers

David

So were WDs (5 years), HSTs (10 years) indeed cars were supposed to be replaced by helicopters by the 1970’s, a bridge by Lewisham is still supported by  Bailey bridge supports 50 years after it was a temporary fix.

 

its demonstration that value and performance often exceeds ideas of man.

 

That a perfectly serviceable, and high reliable, economic to run unit is being scrapped shows the wasteful society we are. In Africa these trains would be running another 50 years, indeed we should be considering donating them rather than scrapping them, as it what usually happens in overseas military manoeuvres when we donate kit to the host country of that exercise.

 

Indeed i’m surprised the idea of sending 313/4/5 to South Africa hasn't been explored, they are actually in the market for second hand 25kv, std gauge EMUs right now to give extra services to overloaded Gautrain routes, and are cost constrained, and Electrostars are both too expensive and unavailable, theres not exactly as easy supply of std gauge 25kv EMUs built to British profile out there.

 

Theres nothing wrong with these units, other than being a British thing of being a focal point to moan at. Once theyve gone the focal point of moaning will shift to the next thing.

Edited by adb968008
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It will be the 150 units next in line for a bashing on Northern when many commuters realise that the 195s have gone to the fast services and the Pacers are being replaced actually by 150s.

 

But again, there is nothing wrong with a 150 that a decent internal refurbishment won't sort - and they are being refurbished.

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Highly reliable? Not in my experience (although they are more reliable now than when they were new). They are certainly highly uncomfortable and extremely noisy going round curves.

 

The 142s were based closely on the design of the Leyland National bus. How many of those are still in front-line service?

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1 hour ago, adb968008 said:

 

Indeed i’m surprised the idea of sending 313/4/5 to South Africa hasn't been explored, they are actually in the market for second hand 25kv, std gauge EMUs right now to give extra services to overloaded Gautrain routes, and are cost constrained, and Electrostars are both too expensive and unavailable, theres not exactly as easy supply of std gauge 25kv EMUs built to British profile out there.

 

Theres nothing wrong with these units, other than being a British thing of being a focal point to moan at. Once theyve gone the focal point of moaning will shift to the next thing.

 

I understand the current Gautrain units have air conditioning and toilets - both things the 31x series of EMUs lack. The Electrostars also have a much superior traction package in performance terms

 

Why should South African travellers be told to put up with a big downgrade in on board comfort just so they can make use of some life expired ex British kit. Such attitudes are reminiscent with the bad days of Empire where 'the colonies' got palmed off with second best stuff because the 'mother country' (the UK) said it was for the best.

 

User expectations (be they customers or equipment operators) do not stay still - be it smartphones, cars or trains and the 31x fleets would need some serious money thrown at them to make them suitable for another decade or so of service. As Wabtc / ScotRail are finding with their Mk3 rakes, a quick coat of paint is not enough to deal with serious corrosion problems.

 

Yes the likes of the SWT 455 traction replacement programme, the resuse of D stock by Vivarail or the overhaul of the Mk3 HST fleet to include power operated doors + retention tanks show that upgrades of older stock can sometimes be done - but it doesn't follow all stock is suitable for such expensive interventions.

 

 

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1 hour ago, woodenhead said:

It will be the 150 units next in line for a bashing on Northern when many commuters realise that the 195s have gone to the fast services and the Pacers are being replaced actually by 150s.

 

But again, there is nothing wrong with a 150 that a decent internal refurbishment won't sort - and they are being refurbished.

 

Unfortunately I find Northern's refurbished 150s... unpleasant. But I agree with your general point. The public sees the seats they sit on and the condition they're in, and fair enough, but it can lead to the impression of knackered, past it trains even if the basic train is still fine.

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31 minutes ago, phil-b259 said:

Why should South African travellers be told to put up with a big downgrade in on board comfort just so they can make use of some life expired ex British kit. Such attitudes are reminiscent with the bad days of Empire where 'the colonies' got palmed off with second best stuff because the 'mother country' (the UK) said it was for the best.

 

Because if we sent them the new stuff with rigid seat cushions they would be even more mad :jester:

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One of the railway mags worries that with a lot of cheap Pacers on the market, heritage railways might use them instead of the current DMUs.

     Brian.

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4 hours ago, brianusa said:

One of the railway mags worries that with a lot of cheap Pacers on the market, heritage railways might use them instead of the current DMUs.

     Brian.

'Twas ever thus. When I was 10 I remember being most put out that my first ride on the recently opened West Somerset Railway was in a Park Royal(?) DMU rather than behind a steamer as I'd expected. These days I'd probably find the DMU more interesting, but back then I was an opinionated little git. 

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20 hours ago, phil-b259 said:

 

I understand the current Gautrain units have air conditioning and toilets - both things the 31x series of EMUs lack. The Electrostars also have a much superior traction package in performance terms

 

Why should South African travellers be told to put up with a big downgrade in on board comfort just so they can make use of some life expired ex British kit. Such attitudes are reminiscent with the bad days of Empire where 'the colonies' got palmed off with second best stuff because the 'mother country' (the UK) said it was for the best.

 

 

I just returned from JNB this am, and have done this trip for many years.

 

The reality is, at an exchange rate half that it was 10 years ago, when Gautrain was built, with a strong economy regionally, but less than 10% that of the UK, South Africa simply cannot afford new build.

 

Right now one of the biggest scandals of recent history centres on 20 Afro 4000 diesels, (class 68’s to you and me), ordered and paid for at a price so high no one understands, nor where the the cash came from to support it (and where its gone for that matter)... The sheer size of the order originally put at 100 locos) was seem as the audacity of what happened.. especially as they are 50 cm too tall for the cape gauge network and rub against the OHLE. 6 years later they lie unused, 13 of them in SA and 7 still in Spain.

(google “Prasa Afro 4000” for hours of reading).

 

On a related note, this week a driver was attacked in response to 6 weeks of delayed trains resulting from copper theft of the OHLE reducing service on a mainline to single track, as the Network operator doesn't have funds to replace the OHLE,

https://www.groundup.org.za/article/train-driver-pays-price-metrorail-inefficiency/

 

now look at the EMU in question, the location Midrand, is a highly lucrative business area between Pretoria and Joburg, think like ‘Reading’ in the UK, not exactly a sleepy backwater.

 

and Prasa is additionally running trains in Western Cape without insurance cover.

 

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-09-12-unprotected-assets-prasa-derailment-worsens-as-insurer-cancels-cover/

 

(And thats just this weeks news).

 

So in context of that, theres no way SA will be buying new 25kv trains anytime soon, which only leaves the second hand option... one which they have publically declared they visited the UK with that intention, as Electrostar production has ceased.

https://www.railwaygazette.com/traction-and-rolling-stock/gautrain-seeks-second-hand-emus-from-the-uk/54226.article

 

When you look at some of the existing stock used on cape gauge tracks, second hand UK stock isn't that unattractive on expanded std gauge lines, considering there isn't much market outside the UK for 25kv, std gauge EMUs, where do you propose they look ?

 

Not every country is as wealthy as the UK.

I think ive successfully defending your colonial slur against me with the above links,  so my question to you is, how come its ok for the rest of the world to buy / sell used railway equipment, which happens on a regular basis, but not South Africa ? I’m hoping its not a further racist undertone in your response.

 

 

Edited by adb968008
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15 hours ago, brianusa said:

One of the railway mags worries that with a lot of cheap Pacers on the market, heritage railways might use them instead of the current DMUs.

 

Equivalent of a heritage railway running trains of the oldest 4-wheel stock possible in some ways, instead of bogie corridor coaches? All part of our railway history. Pacers certainly aren't things I've ever wanted to travel on regularly but it's not hard to see them eventually fitting in to the purely nostalgia niche, and I can see myself smiling a bit at a ride on one in the future (even though I'd probably rather have something steam-hauled, which arguably isn't nostalgia when I'm too young to remember it in day-to-day service).

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They should be used in death as they were never meant to be used for in life (but often were in practice).

 

Turn all of them into public lavatories.

 

Enthusiasts can still go sit on a pacer reeking of piss, reliving the old times.


The general public can now legally piss on a pacer.

 

You can send the cheque for my wonderful idea through the post - I'll take a 5% cut of all pennies spent in these abominations. 

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On 20/09/2019 at 14:37, adb968008 said:

That a perfectly serviceable, and high reliable, economic to run unit is being scrapped shows the wasteful society we are. In Africa these trains would be running another 50 years, indeed we should be considering donating them rather than scrapping them, as it what usually happens in overseas military manoeuvres when we donate kit to the host country of that exercise.

 

Indeed i’m surprised the idea of sending 313/4/5 to South Africa hasn't been explored, they are actually in the market for second hand 25kv, std gauge EMUs right now to give extra services to overloaded Gautrain routes, and are cost constrained, and Electrostars are both too expensive and unavailable, theres not exactly as easy supply of std gauge 25kv EMUs built to British profile out there.

 

Theres nothing wrong with these units, other than being a British thing of being a focal point to moan at. Once theyve gone the focal point of moaning will shift to the next thing.

Sorry, but no.  There is a lot wrong with using these on the public railway of a G7 country. 

 

Very few of us drive 30 year old cars daily and those that do, even fewer drive them for 10-20 hours a day.  Pacers were built 30 years ago and the operating life of the previous generation of DMU was typically about 30 years.  They are worn out as we would expect them to be and as someone else said, you don't see Leyland National buses still operating.  To describe Pacers as highly reliable shows a great deal of selective memory; they all had to be rebuilt within their first decade as the chronically unreliable SCG transmission had a major design fault.  If they're reliable now it's quite an achievement that they've at last reached acceptable levels after only 25 years of operation.  It is possible that recent reliability has been achieved by conducting a lot of preventative maintenance; knowing you won't need your spares stock in a few months means there is nothing to be gained from keeping them on the shelf.  We see the MPC figures but don't see the spares consumption rates.

 

Similarly, spares availability will count against sending the 313/4/5s abroad, remember these are almost 40 years old and obtaining spares is quite a problem.  You just can't get spares for a lot of 1970s electrical control equipment any more.  The 315s would have been withdrawn if Crossrail had opened last December, but with only 4 months to go, the maintenance team learned their spares that they had carefully managed to get them to the end of life now didn't need to last four months, they need to last err.... until further notice.  Many of those spares have been obtained by stripping the units which have been withdrawn. 

 

If Pacers represent a "British thing" it is the attitude - which you are perfectly entitled to - that older equals better and the replacements are always rubbish, not as comfortable, they'll never last, etc.  Much as has been said about withdrawal of almost every train type since people started train spotting.

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I wouldn't forget that LU's 1973 stock on the Piccadilly Line are still doing the job, day in day out, 45-odd years after their introduction, and probably have a harder life than the various members of the 14x family. Age isn't everything, and if it comes to it, it is probably easier to reverse engineer older pre-electronic equipment than it is (or will be) today's generation of equipment.

 

Jim

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1 hour ago, jim.snowdon said:

I wouldn't forget that LU's 1973 stock on the Piccadilly Line are still doing the job, day in day out, 45-odd years after their introduction, and probably have a harder life than the various members of the 14x family. Age isn't everything, and if it comes to it, it is probably easier to reverse engineer older pre-electronic equipment than it is (or will be) today's generation of equipment.

Indeed they are - 4 decades being typical for EMUs - but remember they have also had their planned lives extended by the delays to the New Tube for London programme.  Funnily enough, I am involved in obsolescence management for LU trains and can confirm that while may be easier obtaining some spares than for newer types, it still isn't easy.  Mechanical parts are relatively easy, but 1970s control gear hasn't been made since, well, the 1970s and wasn't designed to be upgraded whereas 1992/6 stock is of an era where every few years you replace a circuit board with its modern equivalent.

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11 hours ago, adb968008 said:

 

I just returned from JNB this am, and have done this trip for many years.

 

The reality is, at an exchange rate half that it was 10 years ago, when Gautrain was built, with a strong economy regionally, but less than 10% that of the UK, South Africa simply cannot afford new build.

 

Right now one of the biggest scandals of recent history centres on 20 Afro 4000 diesels, (class 68’s to you and me), ordered and paid for at a price so high no one understands, nor where the the cash came from to support it (and where its gone for that matter)... The sheer size of the order originally put at 100 locos) was seem as the audacity of what happened.. especially as they are 50 cm too tall for the cape gauge network and rub against the OHLE. 6 years later they lie unused, 13 of them in SA and 7 still in Spain.

(google “Prasa Afro 4000” for hours of reading).

 

On a related note, this week a driver was attacked in response to 6 weeks of delayed trains resulting from copper theft of the OHLE reducing service on a mainline to single track, as the Network operator doesn't have funds to replace the OHLE,

https://www.groundup.org.za/article/train-driver-pays-price-metrorail-inefficiency/

 

now look at the EMU in question, the location Midrand, is a highly lucrative business area between Pretoria and Joburg, think like ‘Reading’ in the UK, not exactly a sleepy backwater.

 

and Prasa is additionally running trains in Western Cape without insurance cover.

 

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-09-12-unprotected-assets-prasa-derailment-worsens-as-insurer-cancels-cover/

 

(And thats just this weeks news).

 

So in context of that, theres no way SA will be buying new 25kv trains anytime soon, which only leaves the second hand option... one which they have publically declared they visited the UK with that intention, as Electrostar production has ceased.

https://www.railwaygazette.com/traction-and-rolling-stock/gautrain-seeks-second-hand-emus-from-the-uk/54226.article

 

When you look at some of the existing stock used on cape gauge tracks, second hand UK stock isn't that unattractive on expanded std gauge lines, considering there isn't much market outside the UK for 25kv, std gauge EMUs, where do you propose they look ?

 

Not every country is as wealthy as the UK.

I think ive successfully defending your colonial slur against me with the above links,  so my question to you is, how come its ok for the rest of the world to buy / sell used railway equipment, which happens on a regular basis, but not South Africa ? I’m hoping its not a further racist undertone in your response.

 

 

 

Thank you for your input - I was unaware things were quite so bad out there.

 

The point is not about re-selling old equipment which is no longer needed - its passing off life expired stock onto someone else rather than disposing of it properly.

 

Trains usually have a 40 year design life - beyond which its simply uneconomical to keep them going. Yes you can make some things like coaching stock going for longer due to their relative simplicity but that shouldn't be regarded as the norm.  Even the venerable Mk3s are needing increasingly extensive corrosion repairs to the bodyshell

 

As such it does not follow that the 31 / 315s are the best bet - corrosion problems and an outdated traction package with no spares (other than what can be cannibalised from other units) is not a wise investment however you look at it.

 

A better suggestion might be the 321s being displaced from Grater Anglia - They are in better condition, come with toilets and being steel bodied are not so susceptible to corrosion problems as the 31x family. Spares might be easier to come by too. Some of the fleet have also undergone extensive refurbishment recently which indicates plenty of potential there.

 

 

Shame they don't use con rail (harder to steal) - the 455s wth brand new traction packages being made redundant by SWR in the next few years could be an option in future.

Edited by phil-b259

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