Rainford Heritage Society is among 17 community groups and charities across the North in the running to win a decommissioned Pacer train as the Government run ‘Transform a Pacer’ competition comes to a close.
Entrants range from radio stations to local hospitals, and the winners will be chosen based on the benefits they can bring to the wider community.
The St Helens heritage group have stated they would convert the Pacer into a heritage centre featuring local artefacts and railway memorabilia.
Other ideas have included converting the carriage into a wildlife classroom to teach the wider community about the local environment and a library’s fantasy grotto for children.
The competition is part of the long-awaited nationwide withdrawal of Pacer trains from the rail network after more than years of service.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The winners of this competition will give a handful of Pacers a future serving local communities in a new and exciting way.
“The Pacers have served communities in the North for three decades. But in that time they have divided opinions and they have become a symbol of under-investment in the North.
“As we level up the economy in the North we are we are phasing Pacers out completely, with the last trains off the network this year. Their modern replacements will improve journeys and create space for 40,000 more passengers.”
Porterbrook CEO, Mary Grant, said: “The judging team and I have been really impressed by the quantity and quality of submissions from community groups looking to repurpose these Pacer vehicles.
"It is absolutely fitting that they will soon have a new role in the communities they once served and Porterbrook looks forward to working with the competition winners to turn their visions into reality.”
Three retired pacer train carriages will be shared between community projects in communities across the North. The vehicles will be repurposed into a range of projects and assets to improve lives locally.
The winners will be decided following the judging panel:
Pete Waterman (Head Judge)
Tim Dunn (Railway enthusiast, historian, broadcaster and presenter of Trainspotting Live)
Mary Grant (the CEO of railways rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook)
Jools Townsend (Chief Executive of The Association of Community Rail Partnerships - ACoRP)