NORTHERN has today retired a Pacer train – the first to be phased out as the railway stalwarts are replaced by a new and refurbished fleet.

Unit 142005 clocked up more than three million miles in its 32 years of service, coming to a stop on Monday after its final journeys between Manchester Victoria and Stalybridge.

A near-£600m investment will see Northern introduce 101 new trains, paving the way for the end of the notorious Pacer over the coming months.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “I am delighted to see the start of the Pacer trains retiring from the Northern network.

"This is a milestone moment for passengers in the north, as part of our commitment to delivering more comfortable, frequent and reliable journeys.

“We are now starting to see brand new, comfortable, modern trains in their place, alongside the 2,000 extra services a week that have already been delivered.”

David Brown, managing director at Northern, said: “The Northern network is busier than it has been for a generation – more than 100 million customer journeys will be made on Northern services in 2019 – and the introduction of new trains and the retirement of the Pacers is at the heart of our transformation for customers.

“We have 15 brand new trains carrying customers, with 91 more to come throughout 2019 and into 2020. In all, we will introduce 101 new trains, a £500m investment in rail in the North. These fantastic new trains will give our customers a genuine step-change in journey experience.”

David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, helped bid farewell to the retiring Pacer as it departed Manchester Victoria on its last day of service.

He said: "Passengers won’t be sorry to see these outdated and uncomfortable trains depart for retirement.

"Pacers have become a potent symbol for the need to invest in better transport infrastructure across the north.

"Their replacements cannot arrive too soon, though it’s now equally important that the railway improves punctuality and reliability of services, so passengers see every possible benefit from each new train.”

In partnership with the DfT and leasing company Porterbrook, three Pacer carriages will be donated in 2020 and transformed into community assets.

Applications are currently being sought via a competition seeking innovative and society focused projects.

Apply online here.