MP’s anger at ‘unacceptable’ decision to deny Hartlepool new trains

A Northern Rail pacer train.
A Northern Rail pacer train.

Hartlepool’s MP says it is unacceptable that train passengers will continue to travel on decades-old carriages instead of on new stock.

Rail firm Northern is getting 98 new electric class trains as 30-year-old Pacer trains are being replaced by the end of next year.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill. Picture by FRANK REID

Town MP Mike Hill has hit out after Hartlepool passengers will not get the benefit of the new trains, only refurbished existing stock, as the line is unsuitable.

But Northern says the upgraded trains will be better than the best trains they currently operate.

Mr Hill said: “The Pacers currently operating out of Hartlepool are over 30 years old and have to be replaced by 2019 because they are old, tired and do not meet modern accessibility criteria among other things.

“In January, I met local members of the Coastliners Rail Group who told me then of problems on the coastal route, including unnecessary speed restrictions and an unwillingness to increase capacity and frequency of trains.

Northern Rail unveiled its first state-of-the-art train which will not be used on its services serving Sunderland and Hartlepool

Northern Rail unveiled its first state-of-the-art train which will not be used on its services serving Sunderland and Hartlepool

“All of this tells me that Hartlepool commuters will be stuck with refurbished class 156 and 158 Super Sprinter trains, which have been described as ‘cast-offs from the old British Rail days’ by Shadow Transport Secretary and Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald.

“It really is not acceptable that after so many years of travelling on worn-out leaky Pacers Hartlepool passengers will have to put up with second hand rolling stock.

“So much for promises of modern trains and pledges to improve the transport infrastructure of the area through the so-called Northern Powerhouse.’

Northern Rail said some routes are not suitable for the new trains due to line speeds and potential issues with other lines and operators.

A spokesman said: “We are still working to determine which routes across our network will see new trains when they are introduced.

“However, with more than 2,500 services each day – and 98 new units – it would be impossible for every route to be served by one of our new trains.

“The North East will be well served by our fully-refurbished 158s and 156s, which will all be modernised and be better than the best train we currently operate.

“These upgraded trains will replace the Pacers across the North eEast of England – as they are also doing in other regions – with all Pacers removed from the Northern network by the end of 2019.”