THE Government has launched a competition to turn outdated Pacer trains into community spaces.

The Pacer has been an all too familiar sight on the Tyne Valley line for more than 30 years – which was far too long according to Rail Minister Andrew Jones.

The much maligned trains are due to be phased out this year. On the Tyne Valley line, they will be replaced by refurbished Class 158 trains.

And the Government has come up with an unusual idea for the redundant Pacers, by offering community groups the opportunity to put forward their plans to convert a Pacer into a new public space.

Mr Jones said: “It is clear that the Pacers have outstayed their welcome. That is why they are being phased out completely to make way for fully refurbished trains.

“Through this competition we can ensure that the Pacer can be transformed to serve a community near where it carried passengers in an entirely different way.

“What we need now are creative and exciting proposals from the public, alongside ideas from businesses keen to support this competition, as we say goodbye to Pacers on our railway.”

Suggestions for the future of the Pacers have ranged from a community cafe to a new village hall.

Fiona Forsyth, officer at the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership, said they have no plans to take the Government up on their offer.

She said: “The partnership welcomes the outlay of the Pacers and looks forward to modern rolling stock on the Tyne Valley Line which is suitable for the 21st century. At the moment, it has no plans to take the Government up on offers for pacer bodies.”