The Dales School, Blyth, Northumberland, has a new school train. The two-car Pacer, which has had its engine and transmission removed, will be used as a library and learning centre with a special focus on railway safety and to inspire career aspirations, using a train driving simulator to make learning engaging and fun.
The train, formerly operated by Northern, was donated by rolling stock owner and asset manager Porterbrook and placed on a short length of track donated and installed by Network Rail. Railway Support Services (RSS) delivered the two-car multiple-unit to its new home.
The Dales is a specialist primary school based on two sites, the other is at Ashington. It provides education for children with a variety of additional needs that may not otherwise be met in a mainstream school setting.
Dr Sue Fisher, headteacher at The Dales School, commented: “This is a dream come true for our children. The train will provide children with engaging learning opportunities and offer those with additional needs a chance to learn new travel skills, develop career aspirations and a lifelong love of reading.”
Andrew Goodman, managing director of RSS, said: “Transport of the two-car Pacer unit was straightforward for us, as we have delivered many railway vehicles and locomotives by road transport over recent years. However, because of site constraints, the coaches were unloaded onto a temporary length of track and then slewed into their present position.
“We were thrilled to be involved with this imaginative project which sees redundant rail vehicles given a new lease of life, to help and inspire youngsters.
“We have taken a few of them for further use elsewhere. Much maligned in service, they lasted three times longer than designed and now seem to be finding several new uses from classrooms to service on heritage railways.”
The delivery of the train was excitedly greeted by children, parents and staff and was covered by local television. Each unit is 17 metres long and weighs 19 tonnes.