Pete Waterman, famed record producer and rail enthusiast, is one of five judges announced today for the Department for Transport’s (DfT) ‘Transform a Pacer’ competition. The competition, launched in July 2019, marks the retirement of Pacers from the railway network.
Community groups across the North have been invited to submit plans and ideas for how an old Pacer carriage could be converted into a vibrant public space. From a café to a new village hall, the DfT is opening the floor to ideas on how the Pacer carriages could be renovated to continue to serve communities.
Pete Waterman will be joined by industry experts and rail enthusiasts, a community engagement and sustainability expert and a local politician in deciding the winner. The judging panel includes:
- Pete Waterman (Head Judge)
- Mary Grant (the CEO of railways rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook)
- Jools Townsend (Chief Executive of The Association of Community Rail Partnerships – ACoRP)
- Tim Dunn (Railway enthusiast, historian, presenter & broadcaster)
- Trudy Harrison, MP for Copeland.
Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Pacers have connected communities across the North for more than 30 years, but they have outstayed their welcome and are being replaced by modern trains and extra services for thousands more passengers.
”As they end their years of service, we are opening the floor to local groups across the North to submit their ideas on how they can be used, and I am looking forward to the outcome of this.”
Rail entrepreneur and judging panel Chair Pete Waterman said: “This competition provides a fantastic opportunity for community groups to actively engage with the rail network to make a difference to their local areas.
“I’m delighted to be chairing the judging panel to oversee the proposals put forward ensuring they are realistic, credible and provide a real benefit to wider northern communities”
Mary Grant, Porterbrook CEO, said: “Porterbrook is delighted to be able to support the DfT’s innovative project to find a new, community based, role for 3 of our Pacer vehicles. It is fitting that this competition will seek to identify new ways in which these Pacer vehicles can continue meeting the needs of the communities they once served”.
Jools Townsend, chief executive of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships, said: “We’re pleased to be supporting this competition, which helps to mark the progress being made in developing our rail network to better serve the North’s communities. It’s apt that an old pacer train will be used to create a community space, and support an initiative driven by local people. I’m looking forward to reviewing the entries and helping to select the winner.”
The Pacers will be donated by rolling stock company Porterbrook. Northern have started to retire some of their Pacer fleet and is rapidly rolling out £500m worth of investment in brand new trains, which will deliver more frequent services, comfortable seats and improved accessibility.
Next week, 20 of the 101 new trains will be in service with the majority expected to be operating across the north by the end of the year. Most of Northern’s Pacer trains will also be out of passenger service by the start of 2020. It comes as part of a significant investment by both government, Network Rail and train operators as part of the Great North Rail Project to transform the national rail network, delivering more than 4,500 new carriages to UK passengers.
Making the north one of the best-connected regions in the UK is at the heart of the government’s ambition for a thriving Northern Powerhouse. Department for Transport is investing £13 billion through to 2020 to transform transport across the region and is focussed on supercharging transport connections for years through our support for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Between 2019 and 2024, the government will also invest around £3 billion in additional funding to upgrade the Trans-Pennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York to deliver faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys with more seats.