A second life for Porterbrook rolling stock

While Porterbrook trains that have reached the end of their journey on the railway are no longer serving passengers, many are now supporting communities in other ways.

As much as possible, we aim to donate end of first life rolling stock to various organisations and emergency services who use them as unique and engaging spaces.

When scrap disposal is necessary, we work closely with our main disposal supplier to ensure the maximum amount of product is recycled. Our current recycling rate for end of first life vehicles is 91%.

From heritage railways to schools and hospitals, ex rolling stock is getting a second lease of life around the UK. For example, as part of the Department for Transport’s Transform a Pacer competition, we donated three of our retired Pacers to community groups across the north.

One of these groups is Platform 1, who provide counselling for people in mental health crisis, mental health awareness courses and workshops in schools. The 19-tonne carriage now sits at the former Platform 1 at Huddersfield station, where the charity also has several sheds, along with counselling offices in nearby buildings.

After three decades and more than 3,161,000 miles of passenger service, it will now be used as a safe space for learning, counselling, and support.

In 2023, we celebrated the opening of another converted Class 144 Pacer carriage that’s been given a new lease on life in Northumberland.

In 2021 the two-car Pacer was donated to The Dales School, a school for children with special educational needs, and has since been converted into a unique library and a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) classroom.

With more than half of the students at the school having never been on a real train, the carriages are also used to teach independent train travel and railway safety.

In 2023 we celebrated the opening of another converted Pacer which has a new home with Airedale Hospital and Community Charity.

This train, aptly named “The Flying Dalesman”, travelled a total of 3,161,398 miles serving passengers – the same as going to the moon and back 6.6 times!

The Flying Dalesman was officially opened in September 2023 and will now be used as an inviting, fun space for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust’s youngest patients.

In addition to bean bags, a Nintendo Switch and a library, the train is now fitted with a private sensory room, making it an ideal non-clinical space for those with additional needs.

Foluke Ajayi, Chief Executive of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The wellbeing and experience of our patients is crucial to us, and The Flying Dalesman is the perfect space for children to forget any anxiety they may have when they come to the hospital for appointments.”