Airedale’s train
Our pacer train transformation project

About our train

Airedale Hospital & Community Charity won the retired pacer carriage in the ‘Transform a Pacer’ competition run by the Department for Transport in 2019. They submitted a winning bid to save the vehicle from scrap by committing to use the carriage to create a positive environment that could benefit the local community. Our aim was to transform the carriage into a useable space for young patients to get away from the clinical setting of the hospital, as well as for schools and community groups to use as an educational space.

Fun facts

  • Carriage number 55801
  • The Flying Dalesman – vehicle number 55801 – is a DMSO vehicle. This means it’s classed as a Driver, Motor (powered), Standard (class), Open (i.e. no compartments such as kitchen or restaurant cars) vehicle.
  • Max speed of 75mph
  • The Flying Dalesman has travelled a total of 3,161,398 miles – that’s the same as going to the moon and back 6.6 times!

The Flying Dalesman over time

1986-1987 Built for British Rail in Derby between 1986 and 1987, manufactured specifically to perform local services in West Yorkshire. This fleet was originally painted in the crimson and cream West Yorkshire Metro livery. A total of 23 Class 144 units were constructed, so the Flying Dalesman is one of only 23!

1993 Prior to 1994, they were used on Leeds/Bradford-Ilkley and Leeds/Bradford-Skipton services.

1995 After the privatisation of British Rail in 1994, Porterbrook Leasing Company became the owner of the Class 144s. They were then leased and operated by several franchises. The first private operator was Northern Spirit, which was later taken over by Arriva Trains Northern (ATN). Post the Porterbrook / ATN refurbishment, these units emerged in a new silver and red Metro livery complete with a refurbished interior.

2004 In December 2004, the fleet was transferred to the then new Northern Rail franchise. Northern Rail replaced the silver and red Metro livery with the Northern purple and blue.

2008 Since 2008, they have been working between Manchester Victoria and Leeds.

2010 By April 2010, all Class 144s were repainted into the new blue and purple livery which you can see today.

2016 During April 2016, Northern Rail’s Class 144s were all transferred to the new franchisee Arriva Rail North.

2019 The Class 144 units in service with Northern Trains had been due to be withdrawn by the end of 2019 as they do not meet new disability regulations. The Flying Dalesman, however, is accessible to all.

2020 Northern Trains took over operations of the fleet on 1 March 2020.

2021 The Flying Dalesman arrived at Airedale in September 2021!

The train’s transformation

Ultimate (Commercial Interiors) Ltd. along with its partners and suppliers, generously refurbished the train carriage. The Ultimate team has worked closely with AHCC to create an exciting and innovative space with distinct areas to inspire Airedale NHS Foundation Trust’s youngest patients and members of the Airedale community.

The train has creative spaces, sensory zones, areas for reading and learning, as well as a garden courtyard.

To book a visit, please contact the AHCC team.