This hack will tell you if your Northern train is going to be a Pacer

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Rail geeks have told frustrated Northern passengers how to find out whether the train they want to catch will be a Pacer.

Guardian journalist Helen Pidd, who is based in Manchester, put out an appeal on Twitter for help in avoiding travelling on Pacers, the notorious 1980s-era trains that are still in use on Northern's routes across Yorkshire.

A Pacer train with its original 1980s folding doors

A Pacer train with its original 1980s folding doors

Pacers were meant to be retired this year and although some have been scrapped, Northern have now been forced to admit that many others will remain in service throughout 2020 due to delays in the introduction of new rolling stock.

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Rail enthusiasts responded to Helen's Tweet with their advice on how you can find out whether a Pacer will operate a scheduled service - and it's surprisingly easy.

Most of those who replied suggested using the Realtimetrains app or website, and selecting the 'detailed view' option on the service information for your train.

This then brings up the model of rolling stock intended to be used for the journey.

The code Class 14x DMU (diesel multiple unit) usually indicates a Pacer, although rail operators do sometimes swap stock at short notice depending on operational requirements.

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There were also plenty of tongue-in-cheek responses from frustrated commuters, who pointed out that merely living in the north was almost a guarantee that you would have to travel on a Pacer.

One Twitter user replied: "You can usually hear them screeching from about three miles away."

The leaders of councils across the north have put pressure on both franchise holder Northern and the government to accelerate the retirement of the Pacers, which Northern blamed on 'industry-wide' problems with upgrades to the rail network.

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Pacers were created by mounting a bus body onto a rail bogie and were intended to be used for less than 20 years. They have been criticised for being cold, noisy, and uncomfortable.

Northern have begun to introduce new trains on some routes but still rely on the diesel Pacer units on lines that have not been fully electrified.