‘Cattle truck’ rail carriages may stay on Hartlepool line after Government U-turn


HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright says he will demand answers in Parliament about when ageing rail carriages will be replaced after an apparent U-turn by the Government.

The 30-year-old Pacer trains were due to be replaced as part of awarding a new contract for local lines in 2016.

But the carriages, previously labelled ‘cattle trucks’ by Mr Wright, could now be modernised instead.

Mr Wright said: “In a debate in Parliament the then Minister For Railways said that as part of the northern franchise the Pacer trains would be replaced.
“Now documentation says they can be modernised which effectively means reserviced.

“They were an interim measure when they came in 35 years ago and it’s not good enough just to refurbish them, we should have new rolling stock.”

The ageing carriages are used by passengers travelling by rail from Hartlepool to places including Newcastle and Thornaby.

Mr Wright said constituents who use the trains every day to commute to work regularly contact him about their faults.

“They are cold in the winter and often break down because they are so old,” added Mr Wright.

“They are often really packed and have no modern facilities.

“In the South-East you can really see the difference with their trains. Passengers from Hartlepool and the North-East deserve better.”

Mr Wright said is working with Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald to make sure the Government keeps its pledge to replace the Pacer trains.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “The Pacer trains have served the railway well, but we recognise that they fall short of many passengers’ expectations. That is why we will specifically ask bidders for the franchise how they will replace or modernise these trains to give passengers a better experience.

“We will continue to take account of passenger views on a range of issues including the future of the Pacers as we develop the specifications for the Northern and Transpennine Express franchises, which will be published later this year.

“No decision will be made without taking these views into account.”