End of old trains

PUBLISHED: 13:24 28 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:44 10 June 2010

THE misery of rail passengers on the Exmouth to Exeter line Avocet who have had to endure 18 months of travelling on creaky rolling stock - originally mothballed when Margaret Thatcher was still in power - could be at an end.

THE misery of rail passengers on the Exmouth to Exeter line Avocet who have had to endure 18 months of travelling on creaky rolling stock - originally mothballed when Margaret Thatcher was still in power - could be at an end.

A dozen 142 trains without air-conditioning, known as "pacers", had been transferred to Exeter from Manchester in 2007 to replace a smaller number of more comfortable, air-conditioned trains, which were required by new franchises in the midlands and north, writes David Beasley.

However, these pacers, which were forced on First Great Western by the Department of Transport, could be phased out again next year, once other companies get new rolling stock.

A spokesperson for First Great Western said: "The lease on some of the fleet we currently use on the Avocet branch line ends in June next year.

"We are in discussions with the Department for Transport and the owners of the rolling stock over replacement trains.

"These talks are not yet complete and, if we do get replacement trains, it is likely they will come in from other parts of our network.

"This would not see any changes to service levels on the Avocet line, just slight gains in seating capacity."

Lympstone's Tony Day, the chairman of the Avocet Line Rail Users Group said: "We hope to get replacement trains next year.

"Hopefully, the 142s would go back up north and we will finally get rid of this old rolling stock.

"And, when some of the lines in London and the Midlands get new rolling stock, we will get their older trains.

"Although they won't be new, it's hard to see what they would be giving us would be any worse.

"Unless, of course, we end up getting cattle trucks and goods wagons.

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