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National Railway Museum Welcomes 'Pacer' Diesel to Collection

  • Pacer No. 142001 donated by Angel Trains and Northern
  • Unit to go on display at Locomotion in Shildon, County Durham

With its distinctive flat front, bus seating and functional design, the diesel 'Pacer' train may seem an unlikely candidate for museum preservation. However, Pacer No. 142001 will now join the National Railway Museum’s collection as an example of recent railway history.  

A familiar sight to millions of commuters in the North of England, the first Pacers were built in 1984 to create reliable and affordable trains to replace ageing diesels from the 1950s and 1960s. 

The train body was based on a Leyland National bus and many fixtures and fittings are shared by both vehicles. Simple to build, run and maintain, Pacers quietly provided an essential rail link for commuters in many parts of Northern England and Wales—in some cases for over 30 years. 

Pacer No. 142001 is being donated to the National Railway Museum by owner Angel Trains and was previously operated by Northern on passenger routes across North-West England. 

With their low speeds and basic features, Pacers have divided passenger opinion, but represent an important part of life on Britain’s railways in the late 20th Century. 

Senior Curator of Rail Transport and Technology, at the National Railway Museum, Anthony Coulls said: 
"The last days of the Pacers are now here and the National Railway Museum is pleased to add No. 142001 to the national collection to represent the reality of commuter travel from the 1980s until today. 

"Though much derided in recent years, their lightweight bus bodies and simple mechanics have made them a qualified success—otherwise they would not have remained in service for so long. It's fair to say that they have played their part in saving many rural lines from closure or further cutbacks and there is even a Pacer fan club now."

Kevin Tribley, CEO of Angel Trains, said: 
"We have supported the National Railway Museum for many years and take pride in playing our part to preserve the history of our railways by donating a Pacer unit to this prestigious collection. While we continue to move forwards investing in and creating the railway of the future, it is equally important that we remember the trains that formed part of the journey to getting us to where we are today."

Unit No. 142001 is the first of the 96 second-generation Pacers to be built by British Rail Engineering at Derby between 1985 and 1987. Subsequent upgrades to fittings and performance followed with the later 143 and 144 classes. 

The class 142 Pacer can seat between 102 and 120 passengers and has a top speed of 75mph. No. 142001 was built by British Rail Engineering Limited at its Litchurch Lance facility in Derby, and has spent most of its life travelling around the North West of England in Northern livery. 

Northern took over from First North Western and Arriva Trains Northern and operated a fleet of 79 class 142 Pacers, although there is a rolling programme of replacements which will reduce this number throughout 2020. 

Alongside Northern’s new trains, the operator is also fully refurbishing the rest of its fleet which will see all Northern trains fitted with free Wi-Fi, at-seat charging, real-time customer information screens and significantly improved accessibility.

David Brown, Northern’s Managing Director said: 
"We are delighted to be delivering on our commitments of removing Pacers and introducing a brand-new fleet of 101 trains. Pacers have served the North well, but we know they are old and outdated and not popular with our customers. 

"Those same customers can now clearly see Pacers are making way for modern state-of-the-art trains which will give them better journeys. 52 of our 102 Pacers have now been permanently retired and the remainder will all be gone next year."

The Pacer joins several other recent additions to the collection such as the InterCity 125 power car No. 43002, Sir Kenneth Grange, as programmes to replace ageing rolling stock continue. In 2020 it is expected that an electric Class 91 high speed electric power car will also be preserved.  

The Pacer will remain in Northern livery on display at Locomotion in Shildon, County Durham. The long-term aim is to keep the vehicle operational to haul passenger rides at the museum’s rail line. 


For more information, please contact Simon Baylis, PR & Press Manager (01904 686 299 / or Peter Livesey, Communications Officer (01904 809 646 /


  • The National Railway Museum in York has the largest collection of railway objects in the world and attracts more than 780,000 visitors per year
  • The National Railway Museum has a library, archive and image collection which contains 750,000 engineering drawings; sound archives containing over 500 interviews; 22,000 books; and 1.75 million photographs
  • The National Railway Museum’s art collection contains over 1,000 paintings, more than 11,000 posters and 2,350 prints and drawings  
  • The National Railway Museum forms part of the Science Museum Group, along with the Science Museum in London, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and Locomotion in Shildon
  • Admission to the National Railway Museum is free, for more information visit our website


  • Angel Trains is one of Britain’s leading train leasing companies and has been an owner and lessor of rolling stock since 1994. The company leases to 18 franchised operators and two open access operators in the UK. 
  • Angel Trains is passionate about financing and delivering high quality, modern assets to its customers and is committed to working with the Government, the Rail Delivery Group ("RDG") and other stakeholders to provide innovative funding solutions to modernise and improve the UK's train fleet. 
  • Angel Trains has invested £5.0 billion in new rolling stock and refurbishment programmes since 1994 and is one of the largest private investors in the industry. 
  • Find more information on the Angel Trains website
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