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The age of the train? It's 30 years old and counting

Class 142 Pacer unit at Leeds Rail StationA report by the Office of Road and Rail has shown that the average of trains in the UK outside London is 22.6 years – the highest figure since records began in 2000.

This includes the ‘Pacer’ trains used extensively in West Yorkshire, and which were first built in the mid-1980s, and the diesel trains used by Virgin Trains East Coast, built in the 1970s.

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:

“Local passengers already know and have been telling us that despite paying more for their travel every year there aren’t enough trains to meet demand, and that a significant number of those that are available are long past their sell-by date."

“Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that Pacer-style trains – already 30 years old – will be scrapped by 2020, and I look forward to seeing him deliver that commitment.

New franchises

“The new Northern franchisee will have to supply at least 120 new-build diesel carriages – not cast-offs or refurbished former Underground trains but new, modern, accessible trains. But they will only replace existing stock, not provide much-needed additional seating which is why, through Rail North and Transport for the North, we have been asking bidders to support the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ proposals and commit to building more carriages than specified by the franchise,” he continued.

“Passengers on TransPennine Express trains – one of the fastest-growing rail markets – also face overcrowding for most of the day, and have seen their trains sent to different operators. They, and I, know that electrification of this key route can’t come soon enough, and I want to see Network Rail and the Department for Transport work together to make it a reality this decade.

“West Yorkshire Combined Authority is committed to creating a transport network that underpins economic growth and creates jobs, and will make the Chancellor’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ a reality. Passengers need assurances that there will significant improvements in the next few years to deliver this.”

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