I’m back! Sorry about the delay folks. I had chicken pox. Yes as an adult. People always look at you wisely when your kid has it and says best to get it over with when young. Turns out they’re quite right.
Anyway enough of that. Pacers, love them or tolerate them they probably saved many branchlines from closure in the 80s so they have their place in history. And to be fair since fitting with decent seats they are slightly more comfortable.
There is a thought going round the railway at the moment that Pacers will be gone by 2019. Why you ask?
In 2019 the TSI PRM comes into force. A double TLA! (Three Letter Acronym). Technical Specifications for Interoperability – Persons of Reduced Mobility. Or Accessibility for short.
This states that trains must give “equivalent access” to people of reduced mobility. The rumour generators state that because of the steps in the doorways of Pacers this means they won’t comply.
But all trains on the UK network have some form of steps in the doorway either outside or inside the train. And most continental European railways have low platforms so have a multitude of steps.
The key to the answer is in “equivalent access”. This basically says if you cannot provide unassisted access (level boarding – floor of train level with platform) then you must provide assisted access. Or a ramp as we like to call them.
So the Pacers comply.
Actually they don’t. PRM also means that if toilets are fitted on trains there must be one PRM compliant reachable from PRM seating. In other words the big toilet with the curvy door needs to be reachable from the wheelchair spots.
As an aside, toilets on my favourite railway, the Ffestiniog, aren’t truly compliant as a PRM toilet to standard design is wider than the loading gauge! Instead they provide equivalent toilets which enable use by a wheelchair person despite not complying by the letter of the law.
Back to Pacers. Pacers have a toilet. A little one. Pacers also aren’t big enough to fit a compliant toilet. So what happens in 2019. Simple. Lock the toilet out of use and put a sticker on the door saying No Access or Staff Only or something. Then you have a compliant Pacer. It’ll cost about £5 per unit. New train for £3Mish or old one for £5? Hmm…
Inconveniences a lot of people to comply with the law. But it will be compliant. So not quite the end…
And anyway it won’t totally be the end anyway because various versions may well be seen coming and going from the Rail Research Unit on Penlowry. But that’s another story.