British Rail Class 142 - Operations - British Rail Provincial/Regional Railways - 142.049 Visits Canada.


142.049 Visits Canada.

BREL/Leyland was keen to fill its order book for the Class 142 design and so 142049 was sent to the Expo 86 exhibition in Vancouver, Canada in order to generate some publicity for the class. It operated a shuttle service along the BC Hydro Railway from Abbotsford to Vacnouver throughout the course of the international exhibition. As the Canadian stations had much lower platforms than those for which142049 was designed, special temporary boarding platforms had to be constructed. The unit certainly got its moment in the media spotlight, as the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is known to have taken a short ride on board. 142049 was also used to assess the viability of the class 142 units as a replacement for ageing RDC railcars then in operation in Canada, but little seems to have come from it.After Expo 86 finished, 142049 returned quietly back to the UK where it re-entered service around the North of England; its days in the spotlight now over. Source - Pacer Group Website.

Unit 142050 was the first Pacer to be fitted with Voith hydraulic transmission - initially on an experimental basis - to see if this configuration would be more reliable than the SCG mechanical gearboxes had been. In early Summer 1988, it was sent to Heaton depot (Newcastle) to work alongside the similarly troubled Class 143s, on what were considered arduous routes. The trial was considered enough of a success for all Pacers to be so converted in due course.

Owing to problems with excessive wheel wear on the sharp curves of the Cornish branches, the units from the West Country (142015-027) were moved north from late Summer 1988 - seven to Heaton depot (Newcastle) and six to Newton Heath depot (Manchester), to help alleviate DMU shortages in those regions. By the mid-1990s, the six former West Country units which had initially gone to Newton Heath were also transferred to Heaton, most / all still wearing their original chocolate and cream livery.

In 1989, Heaton depot implemented a planned Pacer renumbering scheme - which was to cover all Classes 142-144 - in which Class 142s would be renumbered 1422XX (SCG mechanical gearboxes) and 1425XX (Voith hydraulic transmission), thus, their units carried numbers 142516, 142518, 142519, 142520, 142521, 142522 and 142525, and all of their Class 143s were renumbered. However, the other two depots with Pacers, Newton Heath and Neville Hill (Leeds), never implemented this scheme. 142050 was not renumbered 142550, even though it remained allocated to Heaton throughout this time, probably because it was (still) considered to be 'on loan' from one of the other depots for the purpose of the trial. Subsequently, most of the Heaton units received a modified version of Tyne & Wear PTE yellow+white livery from 1992 (after the class 143s originally carrying this livery had transferred to Cardiff), and the opportunity was taken to renumber all back to 1420XX, in line with the rest of the class at the other depots.

Towards the end of the British Rail period, apart from T&WPTE livery mentioned above, other units began to be out-shopped in a revised GMPTE scheme, MerseyRail yellow+white, or standard Regional Railways livery.

Read more about this topic:  British Rail Class 142, Operations, British Rail Provincial/Regional Railways

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