An old Pacer train carriage is headed to hospital after medical bosses found a clever use for the retired stock.
The area’s NHS Trust saved the train carriage after realising it could be repurposed as a mixed-use, non-clinical space to improve the experience of patients using Airedale General Hospital.
The main focus for the new 19-tonne facility will be children and families as well as those with dementia – designated as a communal support area for their stay.
It’s the third and final of the retired carriages to be delivered to community projects as part of the DfT’s ‘Transform a Pacer’ competition in the north of England. One carriage went to a primary school in Bradford to become a science laboratory, and another to a mental health charity based in Huddersfield Station.
The Pacer trains served northern networks for three decades until – as the DfT says – they were squeezed out by competition due to low popularity.
Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “It has been great to witness all three of these Pacer carriages taken off the tracks and into new homes to serve communities across the North.
“Instead of being a home for disgruntled commuters, this train will now have a new life bringing happiness and support to families visiting Airedale Hospital.”
Kirsty Randall, matron for the children’s ward, said: “We’re really excited to have the Pacer train carriage on site, and can’t wait to start using it with our patients and their families.
“We’re planning on using the space for children and young people who need to be in hospital but not necessarily on the ward at all times.
“The space will give these children and young people a space which feels less medical which will really help our younger patients to have a more positive hospital experience.”
The train delivered to Airedale NHS Foundation Trust was provided by rolling stock company Porterbrook and has been in service since 1986, travelling over three million miles across the network in that time. It was installed with the help of Network Rail teams who managed the logistics of putting it into place.
Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook said: “Our Pacer trains have connected communities across Yorkshire over many years. Now that they have left frontline passenger service, I am proud that one of these vehicles will have a new lease of life at Airedale Hospital.
“As good corporate citizens of Britain’s railway we are committed to whole life asset management, and repurposing retired rolling stock is just one way that Porterbrook can help make Britain’s railway more sustainable.
“We hope that families attending Airedale Hospital enjoy using this retired rail vehicle.”