The Pacer graveyard: This is the Yorkshire scrap site where Northern trains end their lives

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Northern have scrapped the first of their fleet of much-maligned Pacers - and this is where they've ended up.

Angel Trains, the company that owns the Pacers and leases them to Northern, sent four of the 1980s-era diesel units to C F Booth in Rotherham this week, where they will be decommissioned.

A battered Pacer in the sidings at C F Booth in Rotherham

A battered Pacer in the sidings at C F Booth in Rotherham

Pacers are now being retired having served the Northern network for nearly 40 years - their original operational life was meant to be half that.

Northern confirm three more Pacers have been taken out of service this month
C F Booth is one of just three companies in the UK capable of dismantling railway stock, and they have been doing so since the 1920s.

The Pacers arrived from the Newton Heath depot in Manchester by lorry this week, although the Booth site at Clarence Metal Works has its own siding and a connection to the mainline between Sheffield and Rotherham, enabling trains to arrive by rail.

Christopher Davis, manager of the rolling stock division at the scrap metal recycling giant, said they are unsure how many Pacers will eventually be sent to the site to be broken up.

A Pacer awaiting scrapping beside an LNER carriage

A Pacer awaiting scrapping beside an LNER carriage

"We've had four so far. They will be inspected and decommissioned, cleaned and then broken up. None of the parts are to be retained so the remaining metal will be sold or used in-house. It could be sent overseas for any number of uses.

"They aren't a particular challenge for us - we've been doing this since 1920! The next two years are going to see a lot of leasing companies disposing of old stock and changing their fleets."

Lack of Pacer train investment is an 'insult' to those living in the north, says Dan Jarvis
C F Booth became well-known in 1987, when they were awarded a contract by British Rail to scrap the APT 'tilting trains', which had only been in service on the Great Western Line for six years. Redundant London Underground trains and carriages are often sent to Rotherham for scrapping.

There are also around 15 former LNER carriages due to arrive at the C F Booth sidings, where they will be dismantled.

'Pacergate' has been a long-running controversy and the failure to scrap the British Rail relics - which were intended as a stopgap solution when first introduced - was seen as a symbol for failed investment in transport across the north of England.

Northern lease 102 Pacers from Angel Trains, and the first one was removed from service in August, with three more following this month. Their retirement has been delayed due to ongoing problems with electrification of the network and the manufacture of new rolling stock. They are to be sent to a storage depot in Worksop before being taken for decommissioning.

Northern have promised they will disappear from Yorkshire routes by 2020.

The trains - known for their rattling motion, cold, dated interiors and noisy engines - were created by attaching bus bodies to rail bogies, and the passenger experience is frequently likened to being on board a bus.

Harrogate transport boss says comparing Pacers to buses is an insult to buses
Council leaders from across Yorkshire told Northern that the temporary retention of Pacers was an 'insult' to passengers, and Dan Jarvis, mayor of Sheffield City Region, said they should be 'consigned to transport museums'. In a letter to the under-fire franchise, they said:-

“As we are forced into accepting the temporary retention of Pacers, we expect you to commit, as a matter of urgency, to appropriate financial compensation to the passengers affected. A reduction in fares on the affected routes throughout the period of Pacer retention is the very least that could be done.”

Northern had already released plans to allow bids for retired Pacers from community groups, who will be able to turn them into public spaces such as soft play areas, cafes and community centres.

The National Railway Museum in York have also expressed interest in putting a Pacer on display as an exhibit alongside the likes of the Mallard and Stephenson's Rocket, acknowledging that it has played a role in rail history.