Sunderland MP ‘disappointed’ that new trains will not run through city

Sharon Hodgson MP.
Sharon Hodgson MP.

A Wearside MP has her expressed disappointment at the news that train passengers in Sunderland will continue to travel on decades-old carriages instead of new, modern stock.

Rail firm Northern is getting 98 new electric class trains as 30-year-old Pacer trains are being replaced by the end of next year.

A Northern Rail train.

A Northern Rail train.

Sharon Hodgson, who represents Washington and Sunderland West, says she is “disappointed” that Wearside passengers will not get the benefit of the new trains, only refurbished existing stock, as the line is unsuitable.

But Northern says the upgraded trains will be better than the best trains they currently operate.

Labour MP Mrs Hodgson said: “Whilst I welcome the commitment by Northern Rail to remove all Pacers from the region by the end of 2019, it is very disappointing that once again, train passengers from Sunderland will miss out on new and improved trains.”

Northern Rail said some routes are not suitable for the new trains due to line speeds and potential issues with other lines and operators.

Northern Rail has unveiled its first state-of-the-art train which will not be used on services for Sunderland.

Northern Rail has unveiled its first state-of-the-art train which will not be used on services for Sunderland.

A spokesman said: “We are still working to determine which routes across our network will see new trains when they are introduced.

“However, with more than 2,500 services each day – and 98 new units – it would be impossible for every route to be served by one of our new trains.

“The North East will be well served by our fully refurbished 158s and 156s, which will all be modernised and be better than the best train we currently operate.

“These upgraded trains will replace the Pacers across the North East of England – as they are also doing in other regions – with all Pacers removed from the Northern network by the end of 2019.”

Mrs Hodgson’s comments follow those of Hartlepool MP Mike Hill, with Northern’s trains going through the town’s station.

Mr Hill said: “The Pacers currently operating out of Hartlepool are over 30 years old and have to be replaced by 2019 because they are old, tired and do not meet modern accessibility criteria among other things.

“In January, I met local members of the Coastliners Rail Group who told me then of problems on the coastal route, including unnecessary speed restrictions and an unwillingness to increase capacity and frequency of trains.

“All of this tells me that Hartlepool commuters will be stuck with refurbished class 156 and 158 Super Sprinter trains, which have been described as ‘cast off’s from the old British Rail days’ by Shadow Transport Secretary and Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald.

“It really is not acceptable that after so many years of travelling on worn out leaky Pacers Hartlepool passengers will have to put up with second hand rolling stock.

“So much for promises of modern trains and pledges to improve the transport infrastructure of the area through the so called Northern Powerhouse.”