News story

Community projects across north compete to win Pacers

Community groups and charities across the north have taken part in the 'Transform a Pacer' competition.

Transform a Pacer competition logo.
  • 17 community projects from across the north have entered a government run competition for a chance to win a Pacer carriage
  • entries range from radio stations to hospitals, as competition marks the withdrawal of the final Pacers from the rail network
  • the 3 winners will be announced following the judges’ decision next week

Community groups and charities across the north are in the running to win a decommissioned Pacer train as the government run Transform a Pacer competition comes to a close.

Entrants range from radio stations to local hospitals and the winners will be chosen based on the benefits they can bring to the wider community. Ideas have included converting the carriage into a wildlife classroom to teach the wider community about the local environment, turning the carriage into a local heritage centre that will tell the story of the history of the railways in the region and a library’s fantasy grotto for children.

The competition is part of the long-awaited nationwide withdrawal of Pacer trains from the rail network after over 30 years of service.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

The winners of this competition will give a handful of Pacers a future serving local communities in a new and exciting way.

The Pacers have served communities in the north for 3 decades. But in that time they have divided opinions and they have become a symbol of underinvestment in the north.

As we level up the economy in the north we are phasing Pacers out completely, with the last trains off the network this year. Their modern replacements will improve journeys and create space for 40,000 more passengers.

Porterbrook CEO, Mary Grant, said:

The judging team and I have been really impressed by the quantity and quality of submissions from community groups looking to repurpose these Pacer vehicles.

It is absolutely fitting that they will soon have a new role in the communities they once served and Porterbrook looks forward to working with the competition winners to turn their visions into reality.

Three retired pacer train carriages will be shared between community projects in communities across the north.

The vehicles will be repurposed into a range of projects and assets to improve lives locally.

The winners will be decided by the following judging panel:

  • Pete Waterman (head judge)
  • Tim Dunn (railway enthusiast, historian, broadcaster and presenter of Trainspotting Live)
  • Mary Grant (the CEO of railways rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook)
  • Jools Townsend (Chief Executive of The Association of Community Rail Partnerships - ACoRP)

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Published 16 January 2020