Shiny new trains for Christmas - but not on the West Lancs Line!
RAIL commuters will be able to enjoy new trains in some areas of the North West by Christmas time this year - but not on the much-maligned West Lancashire line from Southport to Manchester where Pacers and old stock will continue to run.
Northern is to replace the 30-year-old Pacers in some areas with a 98-strong fleet of new electric and diesel units, capable of travelling at 100mph, and complete with air conditioning, Wi-Fi and plug sockets at every seat.
The new fleet will comprise 43 electric-powered and 55 diesel-powered units.
Unfortunately passengers on the Southport-Manchester line, which serves stations at Bescar Lane, New Lane, Burscough Bridge, Hoscar, Parbold and Appley Bridge - will only be able to look on in envy and anger as calls for new trains on the route continue to fall on deaf ears.
They new trains will run on the Blackpool and Manchester Airport, Windermere and Manchester Airport and Chester and Leeds lines initially. There are no immediate plans to use them on the Southport-Manchester line although Government has said that the unpopular Pacers have to be replaced by 2020.
The 98 new units, are part of a multi-million pound modernisation of Northern’s stock, which will start to be introduced on the network from December this year.
David Brown, managing director at Northern, said: “This is a landmark moment for Northern and for rail travel in the north of England.
“We are introducing 98 new electric and diesel trains which will significantly improve journeys and the travel experience for our customers across the region.
“As well as looking like 21st century trains, our new state-of-the-art units will be capable of travelling at 100mph, will have Wi-Fi, plug sockets at every seat, will be air conditioned and fully accessible.”
The first trains are scheduled to carry passengers in time for Christmas 2018.
David added: “Our modernisation programme is gathering pace and the promises we made at the start of the franchise are really taking shape.
“Alongside our new trains we have delivered more than 70 refurbished trains which are already helping customers go about their daily lives with greater reliability and comfort.”
A spokesman for Northern commented: “Initially the first trains will run between Blackpool and Manchester Airport, Windermere and Manchester Airport, and Chester and Leeds.
“Further routes will be added as more trains come into service – we do not have the details of these as yet.
“All pacers are being phased out and by December 2019 will be completely removed from the network.
“We are fully refurbishing all remaining trains so that no matter where you travel on the network you will have a train that operates to ‘as new’ quality.”