Do the general public care about Pacers?

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Intercity 225

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Hi,

It's not uncommon for local services across the north to consist of a Pacer attached to a Sprinter and when I've come across these formations I've paid special attention to the passenger numbers in each vehicle. Whilst I haven't counted the exact number of travellers in both classes of train I've noticed that they're usually very evenly loaded and most passengers waiting on the platform will just head to the nearest door regardless of the type of train it leads to. I'm one of very few who makes the tiny bit of extra effort to always head for the Sprinter.

This leaves me to question how "hated" Pacers are by the general public? Personally I think they're hideous and pleased that they're being replaced but I can't see any evidence to suggest that the typical commuter is really bothered about them. Has any research ever been conducted into how customers feel about specific classes of train?
 
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GrimsbyPacer

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I love Pacers, as do alot of others on this forum.
They use the High Speed Freight Vehicle design for it's underframe, and bus technology being used more on trains is a no-brainer.

The 139, & 144e show they can be excellant and cheap.
 
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YoungJohnson

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It is all about suitability for what they do.

The bus seats in some pacers are abhorrent, but pacers with reasonable seating on rural branch lines are no bad thing.

They are certainly preferable to voyagers. But then pretty much everything is!
 

GrimsbyPacer

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No they should be refurbished. It's cheaper, "greener", there's a DMU shortage, etc. There's never a reason to burn trains that can easily be fixed.
I think Parry People Movers Ltd train designs are brilliant and could solve alot of problems on the railway, we need next generation Pacers. Not every line makes sense with a big heavy 185.
 

61653 HTAFC

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I'm not sure PPM vehicles should be classed as pacers, while the 139s do have a pacer-esque chassis and feel, they aren't permitted to run on the same tracks as other heavy rail vehicles. The concepts for larger vehicles have bogies so don't really deserve the pacer label.

I certainly hear normals moan about "those bus trains" and generally find that when a pacer and sprinter run together most will choose the sprinter. Though there are restrictions on this- on Huddersfield to Manchester Victoria stoppers, only the front unit can be used between Huddersfield and Greenfield. This means that West of Greenfield the loading won't tell the whole story.
 

47802

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Hi,

It's not uncommon for local services across the north to consist of a Pacer attached to a Sprinter and when I've come across these formations I've paid special attention to the passenger numbers in each vehicle. Whilst I haven't counted the exact number of travellers in both classes of train I've noticed that they're usually very evenly loaded and most passengers waiting on the platform will just head to the nearest door regardless of the type of train it leads to. I'm one of very few who makes the tiny bit of extra effort to always head for the Sprinter.

This leaves me to question how "hated" Pacers are by the general public? Personally I think they're hideous and pleased that they're being replaced but I can't see any evidence to suggest that the typical commuter is really bothered about them. Has any research ever been conducted into how customers feel about specific classes of train?

On a short trip if its attached to a 150 for instance I probably wouldn't be that bothered however on a longer trip the ride would be irritating on the Pacer.

For me its not just that the pacers are going, but Northern Connect will hopefully offer a step change in quality on the longer distance services not just on Pacer's but also 150's and 155/6 etc.
 
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Xenophon PCDGS

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I wonder when the time comes for Angel Trains to divest themselves of their Class 142 Pacer fleet, will Vivarail be quietly be waiting for that opportunity to take over a goodly number of them in order to transform them into a new vision of British rail redesigned units that will be fit for the 21st century?
 

sprinterguy

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I think that passengers will generally be disappointed by any stock that is perceived to be dirty and dated. In certain areas of the country, this perception is exemplified by the aging Pacer trains, and the brand gives the public something specific to direct their ire towards. In reality however I am not sure that many people would be able to differentiate between a Pacer and a similarly aged Sprinter unless it was specifically pointed out to them.
 
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Phil.

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The travelling public basically couldn't give two hoots about what train it is. As long as it's clean, it's got plenty of seats, it's punctual and the toilets work they don't care what colour it is, which leasing company owns it or when it last had a maintenance exam.
 

D365

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The travelling public basically couldn't give two hoots about what train it is. As long as it's clean, it's got plenty of seats, it's punctual and the toilets work they don't care what colour it is, which leasing company owns it or when it last had a maintenance exam.

Or how many axles it has? :D
 

samuelmorris

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To those that spend a lot of time travelling on them both and actually develop an opinion regarding them, a small number might relocate themselves on the platform to board their preferred type of vehicle. In practice though, that's pretty few people. Considerable numbers of regular commuters will board a carriage of a train that's almost completely full of standing passengers rather than try walking further down the platform where the service may be so much quieter that seats are available. I would argue that a differential like that is greater than that experienced by travelling in, for example, a Sprinter vs. a Pacer. It's a decision I'm guilty of making, choosing a 150 rear half of a train rather than a 142 at the front. Probably an erroneous one as the 150 in question was in a disgusting state. I have subsequently travelled on a 144 which was largely fine apart from a slightly rougher ride and slower boarding due to door placement. As far as comfort goes though, it was far better than the 150 (that time solo, so there was no choice) which had so little legroom I was applying quite a lot of pressure to the seat in front of me with my knees, despite sitting as upright as I could.

I'm in favour of ditching the Pacers because unless they are disposed of, the temptation will always be there to use them in place of higher standard rolling stock to save costs. They've already almost doubled their expected lifetime.

I don't think there's much debate over the fact that Pacers are of a lower standard than other DMUs, but in terms of the general travelling public, I don't think they'd have much to say about a 150 turning up in place of a 142, other than that it was less crowded due to the larger size of the unit. It would take swapping a pacer for a unit to the standard of 158 or 170 for most passengers to remark on how much the quality of the travelling experience had improved, possibly not even a 165. As nice as it is to have a smarter train, most people travelling don't really give a damn until you ask them whether their fare represents good value for money. Then they probably will have a negative opinion about Pacers if they use them often.
 

fowler9

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I think a better test rather seeing how many people choose between a 142 and say a 156 on a doubled up service would be to ask people living up towards Huyton & St Helens (for example) think of their new trains as opposed to what used to turn up.
 

rebmcr

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My non-train-aware friend and I travelled from Manchester to Cardiff a few years ago, when the ATW 158 turned up he complained about the "40 year old rubbish train" we were about to board.

With the general public, I think the cab end is the only thing they really pay attention to.
 

BestWestern

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The answer is 'no'; the pulic don't know or care, save for a tiny proportion.

The Pacerbashing bandwagon was started merely to score political points, and quite frankly it has gained far more momentum that it ever should have done. It has nothing to do with the travelling public, and everything to do with opportunist headline grabbing.
 

Jordeh

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I think it's interesting how so many people have discounted the general public caring about pacers. Whereas threads about pendolinos are often filled with how much the general public love them, although that could be the Virgin brand?

Very crude and somewhat meaningless analysis admittedly, but I do think it's unlikely the general public only 'care' about trains in a positive respect and not a negative one.
 
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Topgun333

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My mother who lives in Southampton recently visited me in Manchester. We took a Pacer into town and she was genuinely shocked at how basic and decrepit it was compared to the trains she uses in the south.
 

47802

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The answer is 'no'; the pulic don't know or care, save for a tiny proportion.

The Pacerbashing bandwagon was started merely to score political points, and quite frankly it has gained far more momentum that it ever should have done. It has nothing to do with the travelling public, and everything to do with opportunist headline grabbing.

I wouldn't entirely agree with that most of my work colleagues who are not enthusiasts, may not be specifically pacer aware, but many do regards Northern trains as S*** period, when compared to other TOC's, and clearly Pacers are a big part of that viewpoint.


Was there some political point scoring well yes maybe, but had Northern not be let on a no growth basis, and had the rolling stock being given decent refurbs then I don't think there would have been quite such clamour to get rid, but really its time they went particularly as in some cases they didn't end up on the branch lines they were meant for, and consequently ended up on some routes which should have had 15x trains.

By the time they go they are going to be around 35 years old I am bemused as to why anybody should think they should last longer
 
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alexl92

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One of the biggest issues with pacers is the noise. They are by far the noisiest to travel on, and travelling over points (such as leaving plat 5/6 at Huddersfield) is bumpy and uncomfortable. I've definitely seen people on them being pretty hacked off at the noise no question. The sooner they're packed off to Booths, the better.
 

TheKnightWho

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I think a lot of the issue is that the public can perceive a bad experience, but they aren't knowledgeable enough about trains to realise which types of unit give that experience when given the choice. They just lump them all in together under "bad, outdated and dirty".
 

RichmondCommu

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My wife's parents live in East Lancs and know all about Pacers. Whilst they don't refer to the Pacer by it's name they are aware that the train that leaks rain water, is freezing cold in winter and makes a terrible racket will soon be gone. And they won't miss it. They simply refer to it as the rubbish train that runs along their local line.

Forum members might also be interested to know that they refer to the Pendolino by its name, mostly due to Virgin Trains marketing when they were introduced. They refer to the train as a "funny looking thing" but also the train that has improved the service from Preston to London. For them journey times are everything.

Just saying that's all.
 

XC victim

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I prefer a pacer over a 150 with the original interior

I couldn't agree more. The pacers certainly have there faults, especially when travelling round tight corners. But the seats on a class 144 pacer are actually quite comfortable, much better than those on the class 150.

The truth is the thing most people want to travel on is a band wagon
 

SpacePhoenix

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How many branches all round the country are there where a single pacer (two coupled during peak times) provides adequate capacity and any 15x (maybe with the exception of class 153s), 16x or 17x class would be overkill?
 

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How many branches all round the country are there where a single pacer (two coupled during peak times) provides adequate capacity and any 15x (maybe with the exception of class 153s), 16x or 17x class would be overkill?

Quite a few, though many are longer than you'd want to be on a pacer for, such as the HOWL. Huddersfield to Wakefield is usually fine with a 2-car pacer but gets a bit snug in the shoulder-peak due to schools traffic. Doubling up causes issues with platform lengths.
 

gimmea50anyday

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My observations it depends on which set is at the front. I have noticed people favour the set the guard is NOT in, regardless wether its a 142, 150 or a 156 leading.....
 

DarloRich

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The answer is 'no'; the pulic don't know or care, save for a tiny proportion.

The Pacerbashing bandwagon was started merely to score political points, and quite frankly it has gained far more momentum that it ever should have done. It has nothing to do with the travelling public, and everything to do with opportunist headline grabbing.

Lots of people in Northern land don't like the pacers (or bus trains as many call them) and will be happy to see the back of them, however they realise that they can either get on board or walk to walk!
 

aformeruser

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It's not uncommon for local services across the north to consist of a Pacer attached to a Sprinter and when I've come across these formations I've paid special attention to the passenger numbers in each vehicle. Whilst I haven't counted the exact number of travellers in both classes of train I've noticed that they're usually very evenly loaded and most passengers waiting on the platform will just head to the nearest door regardless of the type of train it leads to. I'm one of very few who makes the tiny bit of extra effort to always head for the Sprinter.

I think there's a number of points to consider:
1. Some people can't recognise the difference in the exterior even if they can recognise the difference in interior.
2. At the origin station some people don't realise both trains are going to their intended destination.
3. At intermediate stations people may not have time to walk to the other end of the formation to see if it's a better train.
4. One train may have fuller than the other train earlier on but that train also emptied out faster.
 

driver_m

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If northern in its previous guises had looked after all of its stock, then I don't think we'd have this crop up quite so much. When you get on a 156 and the seat cushion falls off under you, sit next to the bog in a 150 and the end door opens with every lurch and then a 142 turns up with condensation in the window and a stink of damp the conversation should be about just how badly our stock has been neglected across the board. I'm no fan of nodding donkeys but it's rare to hear people on here complaining about the ones at Arriva Wales. General opinion is that GW looked after theirs too.

I'm basically saying they're a convenient thing to attack when there are far bigger problems across the whole northern local network. I travel regularly on other TOC's trains and just one company stood out for its poor quality stock by a mile. By 2020 I hope that we can look back and say thank god someone got a grip and changed things for the better. (Yes I'm an optimist!)
 

aformeruser

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I'm no fan of nodding donkeys but it's rare to hear people on here complaining about the ones at Arriva Wales. General opinion is that GW looked after theirs too.

One other difference is GW and ATW have selected certain routes for them and they tend to stay on those routes. With Northern provided the Pacers are cleared and the crews sign them they go pretty much anywhere.
 
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