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Pacer Page 1- Class 142

Love them or loath them, the class 142 "Pacer" has been a familiar site in the north of England for 25 years on anything from short commuter runs around Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool to rural jaunts to Whitby and around the Cumbrian Coast. They have also substituted on interurban and even Trans-Pennine Express runs.
They can also now be found in South Wales and the West Country, in the latter case their second excursion to this part of the world.
Designed as a temporary measure pending construction of more robust stock (which never materialised) the class 142's were jointly built by BREL at Derby (underframes) and Leyland at Workington (bodies), and basically featured a widened Leyland National bus body on a long wheelbase wagon chassis. Rather like Trigger's broom in "Only Fools and Horses" there are few original bits left on many units. Delivered with Leyland TL11 engines and SCG (Self Changing Gears) transmission, the units proved troublesome in service and soon received Voith transmission. They later received Cummins engines, new doors and in many cases an interior refit.
Although many plans have been hatched to replace these units, they look set to continue in service until at least 2015 if not longer. There follows a pictorial tribute to the class 142's career so far. Who needs bogies anyway?(!)
Above is the doyen of the class, 142001 at Manchester Victoria on 3/7/93. 142001 to 142014 were delivered in Greater Manchester PTE Orange and Brown livery in 1985, and retained this livery until the mid-90's. At the time of the photo Manchester Victoria station was in the early stages of its rebuild, the platforms where the 142 is seen had been covered by an attractive overall roof which had been removed some months earlier. Note also the temporary footbridge in the background.
Presumably the 142 is undergoing a door test, which would explain the offside door being open at the near end.

142015 to 142027 were delivered in pseudo-GWR Chocolate and Cream livery and went to Plymouth Laira depot for branch line services in Devon and Cornwall. Excessive flange wear was experienced on the sharply curved lines, and passengers and residents complained about the loud screeching as the units negotiated the curves, hence in 1988/89 the units transferred north to Newton Heath (Manchester) and Neville Hill (Leeds) depots. Those at Neville Hill soon moved on, either to Newton Heath or to Heaton (Newcastle), home depot of rather careworn 142025, seen at Middlesbrough on a Whitby service in multiple with an unidentified sister unit in Provincial livery. The photo was taken on 6/7/96.
The rest of the class 142/0 (142028 to 142050) and all of the class 142/1 (142051 to 142096) were delivered in Provincial services two-tone Blue livery, as depicted by 142051 (above) departing Manchester Piccadilly on 3/7/93. The unit was substituting for a failed class 158 on a Liverpool Lime Street to Norwich service, it is not known how far the unit worked but it did not reach East Anglia, no doubt to the relief of the passengers aboard!

The only visible difference between the 142/0 and the 142/1 nowadays is in the roof mouldings, the 142/1 having a simplified arrangement of these, with the exception of 142051 which has a 142/0 style roof. When new the panel above the windscreen on the 142/0's was glass, painted black except for a rectangle which was unpainted to form the destination aperture. The 142/1's had the panel made from fibreglass with a glass destination aperture rubber- mounted within it. After a few years the 142/0's (except one end of 142021, see below) were modified with fibreglass panels so this area now looks the same on both variants.

The first modification to the livery of these units occurred in 1989 when British Rail's Provincial sector came up with the Network North West brand for local services in the region. Although some class 150/2's received a new livery, the 142's simply had the new NW logo applied to their existing Provincial Services colours, this entailing the removal of the BR logo to the cab side. Most units had only one side of each vehicle so treated although a few had both sides of each done. 142032 demonstrates the effect (below) as it arrives at the un-rebuilt Manchester Victoria on 28/8/92. The unit has had its front light surrounds repainted, the paint on these tending to flake off (as seen on 142051), and the painter has also done the lamp bracket for good measure.

Above is a close up of the Network North West branding and the relocated BR double arrow on the side of 142039 on 30/5/92, in the well-known north west setting of Hull Paragon(!). Also visible (above the double arrow) is the unofficial Newton Heath depot sticker featuring the depot's NH code arranged either side of a Lancashire Witch on her broom. Visible inside the unit is the original location of the passenger communication apparatus (pass-com (i.e. the emergency alarm)) above the door. These were moved onto the bulkhead when the Guard's door controls were moved from inside the cab to the point where the pass-com is located here. The rather ornate circular cover for the emergency door release, visible to the left of the pass-com was also replaced by a nondescript square perspex panel at the same time.
The unit was on a booked diagram which ran on Saturdays in 1992 to 1993 and took a Newton Heath unit first from Manchester Piccadilly to Sheffield via the Hope Valley, then from Sheffield to Hull, arriving around 1030. The unit then worked the 1100 Hull-York service, then from York to Sheffield and finally back through the Hope Valley to Manchester. Although the orange GMPTE units sometimes worked the diagram, the blue ones were far more common. Although the unit looks generally smart, the dirt ingrained in the panel joins was an almost unavoidable feature of the units in this livery, later liveries used darker colours which disguised this effect. The marks above the cab window and doors are probably partly due to corrosion caused by water sitting in the rain strips, another feature of the class.

Below is another shot of the unit in Hull station, alongside Neville Hill's 142078, the rather work weary condition of the latter was fairly typical at this time.

Neville Hill were slightly more conservative in the modifications to the livery of their 142's, which was mainly confined to the oversize unit numbers applied to the later class members from around 1994 onwards. 142094 shows the effect (above) as it stands in platform 8 at York with a Leeds via Harrogate service on 18/4/95.

The original three liveries were joined in the latter part of 1991 by Regional Railways Grey and Blue. Regional Railways was the new name for Provincial, and 142023 was the unit selected. Exactly why the unit was painted is unclear, as it was around two years before any others joined it. Whilst still unique the unit departs (below) from the remains of Manchester Victoria's platform 14 on 3/7/93.

Above. The liveries began to come thick and fast from 1992, in the summer of that year Heaton outshopped 142020 in a new version of Tyne and Wear PTE Yellow and White, it soon being joined by 142017 to 142019, 142021 and 142022.142021 is seen at Whitby in July 1996.
Heaton also had its paint brushes out in 1993 when 142015 and 142016 received Regional Railways colours. Oddly, having painted most of its Chocolate and Cream units in other liveries it left 142024,142025 and 142026 as they were, and it fell to Northern Spirit to repaint these in around 1998.

Below. Meanwhile, back in the north west Merseyside PTE decided to have 142051 to 142058 painted in its Yellow and White livery with Black and Grey bands, as shown by 142056 at Rochdale on 7/1/99. These units were re-seated with low-backed individual seats and later received electronic blinds, as shown later on. They worked as part of the ordinary Newton Heath fleet, hence the appearance at Rochdale, firmly in Greater Manchester.
Both the Merseyside and the second Greater Manchester livery (see below) required a slight modification to the units, in that part of the recessed moulding line on the cab side needed filling in to create a flat surface for the PTE logo. This feature can still be found on the units involved, which are now mainly in Northern livery.
The additional small grille between the light clusters is an intake for a modified cab heating system which was fitted to all Newton Heath based examples during the mid to late 90's.

Above. Not to be outdone, Greater Manchester PTE started painting units in its new two-tone Grey livery. Eventually most of the Newton Heath allocation carried these colours. After a fall-out between the PTE and Regional Railways in the mid 90's the GMPTE branding was replaced with that of Manchester Airport, but relations had been on patched up by the time of this photo showing 142008 at Manchester Oxford Road on 2/1/99, and the GMPTE branding had returned .
142008 would be written off some years later in a collision with class 87 number 87027, becoming the second class 142 to be withdrawn. The first was 142059 which ran away whilst approaching Liverpool Lime Street in around 1990 and ended up embedded in the station roof.
 Incidentally the class 87 was itself scrapped in November 2010.

Below. The original doors on the class 142's were standard Leyland National bus fittings and were not suited to the 75mph top speed of the units, letting in copious amounts of air and rattling loudly. There had been odd incidents of doors coming open when the units were new, and modifications were quickly undertaken to stop this. However in 1994 a start was made on replacing them with more robust two-leaf doors, and before long the whole fleet had been so treated.
The replacement doors were Yellow inside and out and were not overpainted when fitted, so the units appeared with cheerful yellow doors on often dowdy existing liveries. Heaton's 142050 departs Battersby on a Whitby to Middlesbrough service on 2/7/96 with a Tyne and Wear Yellow unit leading. Of course the Yellow doors didn't really stand out on the TWPTE units, but on Provincial blue ones they certainly did as can be seen. Number 50 also has a defective coupling, as witnessed by the bag over the coupler itself and the NM (Non-Multi) sticker in the centre windscreen.

Above. Following the falling out between GMPTE and Regional Railways, over funding from one and the performance of the other respectively, some Newton Heath units were outshopped in Regional Railways livery. These had a variation in that the blue continued up to the dark grey roof, i.e. the cantrail-level light grey band was omitted. The units had already received their new doors which thus were also repainted externally, although the inside of them remained yellow.
142044 shows this livery at Oldham Werneth on 7/1/99, the significance of the two cats drawn in the dirt on the front end is not known.

Below. Neville Hill also painted its units in Regional Railways livery from around 1996 on, although they managed to include the upper light grey band. Some were later transferred to South Wales to work on the Valley lines network and received subtle branding to that effect as shown by 142086 arriving at Cardiff Central on a Penarth service in 2002.

Above. Back up North, following privatisation Regional Railways North East passed to MTL (Merseyside Transport Limited) and became Northern Spirit in the latter part of 1997. A new livery of Turquoise with a Light Grey skirt and a large Green N logo was unveiled, and was ultimately carried by five class 142's, numbers 142025, 142026, 142050, 142065 and 142066. 142065 is seen here at Sheffield on 10/7/04.

Below. Over in the North West, Regional Railways North West had prepared for privatisation by re-naming itself.......wait for it.....North West Regional Railways! Privatisation saw it become North Western Trains under the ownership of Great Western Holdings, a joint venture of Great Western's management, investment group 3I and First Group. First ultimately increased its shareholding until it owned NWT (and indeed Great Western) outright. As a result, and following First's decision to give more prominence to its own name, NWT became First North Western. Some units had been painted in North Western Trains Blue livery with Gold stars, and these repaints continued after the re-branding, the 142's being deemed too lowly to carry First corporate colours. The others simply received the new name on their existing livery as seen on 142060 at Manchester Victoria in 2003. The names were arranged so that the word "First" was always directly next to the door, to give the brand the required impact, hence the far name reads "First North Western" whilst the nearer one reads "North Western First".
Above is seen 142009 at Guide Bridge on 8/8/06 working a Manchester Piccadilly to Rose Hill service. The unit carries the North Western Trains Blue livery with Gold stars but has been de-branded following the takeover of First North Western and Arriva Trains Northern operations by Northern in December 2004. Most units eventually received subtle Northern branding, but it appears that number 9 is still waiting at the time of this photo. 

Below. Shortly before the end of the Arriva Trains Northern franchise, Arriva began a programme of repainting its class 142's, although much of the livery was actually applied using vinyls. This caused subtle colour changes, especially in the cream area, caused by the different colours of paint underneath. On the ex-Tyne and Wear units the cream took on a very yellowish tint, but this would not affect a sparkling 142016- seen calling at Morley on a Leeds to Huddersfield service on  10/4/04- as it had previously been in Regional Railways livery.

Above. Following the re-franchising of operations in the North of England during 2004, Northern Rail became the operator of the majority of the class 142's, and indeed at the time of writing operated 73 of the 94 survivors. Almost all are now in Northern livery, as depicted by our old friend 142023, seen at York on 12/7/08.

Below is a shot of the interior of an Arriva-refurbished unit, believed to be 142019. The refurbishment featured the installation of higher-backed 2+2 seating, textured flooring, the removal of the parcels area in one vehicle and a general repaint into more subtle and modern colours than featured previously. The cross symbol visible on the glass partition in the foreground is the logo of Nexus (formerly Tyne and Wear PTE), and was found only on the Heaton-allocated units.

The 142's acquired by Northern came in a variety of liveries, almost all the North East contingent being in Arriva colours, which as they had only recently been applied proved very long lived, indeed at least one unit retained this livery in February 2010. Less common were the yellow light clusters seen on 142018 in this view, above, at Wakefield Kirkgate on 23/8/08.

Below. Merseytravel (Merseyside PTE) had updated its livery in around 2003, still utilising Yellow and White but with a silver-grey band in place of the black and grey ones on the earlier livery. Units 142041 to 142049 joined the original Merseyside units (142051 to 142058) in this livery, and all received the modernised interior and electronic blind, the large aperture for which can be seen on this unit, 142055 at Sheffield on 7/9/08.  The electronic blinds can only be set using the control panel in the cab that the unit is being driven from, this changing the blind at both ends and also the internal blinds fitted within the saloons. In this case the driver has managed to turn the blind off before stabling the unit, no mean feat, as at least three steps would be required to achieve this, namely turn off the destination blind light, turn the destination blind isolation switch to off and finally input four 0's in the control keypad and press enter. Its easy to see why many of these units are stabled with the blind still on!

Above is seen the interior of a Merseytravel unit, number 142041, showing the individual 3+2 seating fitted.

The exterior of the unit is seen at Knottingley in the view below, taken on 27/8/08.

The shot above is of 142026 at Wakefield Kirkgate on 12/9/08. The blind, in the process of being wound from "Wakefield Kirkgate" to "Knottingley" shows "Stanhope", this being added to the blinds of North East units for a Summer Sundays-only extension of the Darlington to Bishop Auckland service which was operated for a few years from around 1990. The terminus was a temporary station built at Stanhope on what is now the Weardale Railway. The service ceased following the loss of the Blue Circle Cement traffic which provided the lines main income, it being uneconomic to retain it for a seasonal one-day-a-week service. The dilapidated canopy next to the unit still bears traces of British Railways North Eastern Region Duck-Egg Blue and Cream paint scheme, dating from the 1960's.

Below is a photograph of one of the cabs of unit 142034 taken in July 2010. This unit is one of a number of ex- First North Western sets that Northern has given an interior mini- refurbishment with new seat covers, repainted side panelling and cab repaint. As can be seen the windscreen surrounds have been painted light blue and the driver's desk grey. For a saloon interior photograph of this unit, see further down the page.

Seen (above) is 142013 at Wakefield Westgate on 8th April 2010 whilst forming the 2242 to Huddersfield. On the face of it just another Northern class 142....

.....but inside the unit is a gem, retaining several original features. The unit, along with a handful of others, managed to avoid the First North Western interior refresh program and retained its original flooring, it also did not receive the additional luggage racks fitted to most of its Newton Heath based sisters. Until recently the cab bulkheads were still orange, but as can be seen in the following photographs, the unit has been treated to a saloon repaint by Northern and has also had its seats re-covered.
The photo below is an interior shot showing the original brown flooring and brownish-cream seat backs, the unit also retains the fittings for the sliding doors which enabled the cab end of each vehicle to be locked off as a secure area for parcels, although the doors themselves have been removed. Note that the wheelchair ramp is also in a non-standard position on the inner end bulkhead (on the right hand side at the far end of the saloon), ordinarily in an ex-First North Western unit the ramp would be on or under the additional luggage rack, but as mentioned above 142013 was not fitted with this.
Above is a view of the centre of the vehicle, showing the grilles in the ceiling for the saloon heaters, located in the "pod" on the roof. Although many 142's have been fitted with enhanced heating, this (the system fitted when new) is still in use on this unit, and indeed was doing a splendid job at the time the photo was taken. The repainted interior panelling can also be seen. 
Below is a close-up of one of the bulkheads showing the gap for the sliding doors and the lighting in the vestibule area which again has been altered on many units. Although not visible in this photo, the unit has been slightly modified by the removal of one tip-up seat (opposite the one seen) to create a dedicated wheelchair space.
The small silver circular fitting just visible between the cab door and the left-hand poster (diagonally up from the cab door handle) is the Door Key Switch (DKS) used by the Conductor. These were originally fitted inside the cab (and still are on the ex- Arriva Trains Northern units). 142013 was the first 142 to have its DKS's moved outside the cab, initially into the cab doorway facing sideways (around the corner from the position seen here), but this was not successful and they were moved again as seen, this being adopted as standard for the other units so modified. The blanked off holes from the experimental DKS position are clearly visible when boarding the unit.
Above is a view of the interior of ex- First North Western 142034 following refurbishment by Northern. Note the extra luggage rack (left) and handrail fitted in the wheelchair space (right) which were part of the First North Western refit of the units, as were the replacement bulkheads between the wheelchair/luggage area and the saloon.
Below is another remarkable survivor. As mentioned above, the 142/0's when new had the panel above the windscreens made of glass painted black with a rectangular section left unpainted, behind which was the destination blind. The panel was soon replaced on most units with a 142/1 style fibreglass version which featured a rubber-mounted glass panel for the destination blind. However, vehicle 55562 from unit 142021 has somehow retained the painted glass panel, which has been repainted grey as part of the unit's Northern livery, as seen here at Leeds on 18th August 2010, following arrival with the 0826 from Selby. The other vehicle, 55612, has received a modified destination panel.