142059: Crashed Pacer Train Cab Hidden Beneath Manchester Victoria Station

The surviving cab of crashed Pacer train, British Rail Class 142 number 142059, beneath Manchester Victoria railway station (Image: Pete Dickinson; crashed Pacer 142059 cab beneath Manchester Victoria station)

Even some of the most enthusiastic rail fans have a love/hate relationship with diesel multiple units (or DMUs), the utilitarian workhorses of commuter rail and country branch lines. To many, DMUs are an important chapter in the evolution of Britain’s railways and passenger transport. To others, they’re an unworthy replacement for truly great locomotives of the past. Few are more maligned than the Pacer series of railbuses, which combine cheap, modified bus bodies with generic freight chassis. Designed in the 1980s for no more than 20 years of service, many rattling Pacers remain in use today.

Whatever your opinions may be of diesel multiple units, however, at least one abandoned Pacer train has become a source of minor railway intrigue over the decades. In 1991, the British Rail Class 142 locomotive in question (number 142059) was involved in an accident at Lime Street station in Liverpool. Many years later, the front of 142059’s broken cab has been photographed in the gloomy subterranea beneath Manchester Victoria railway station.

(Image: David McGuire; 142059 after the crash at Liverpool Lime Street station)

The crash occurred in October 1991 when the Class 142 collided with a buffer stop at Liverpool Lime Street. The DMU, which had encountered brake problems, ran away downhill from nearby Edge Hill station before coming to an abrupt halt on the Lime Street buffers. The front of 142059’s bus body completely crumpled when it hit the obstacle. Fortunately the train was not carrying passengers at the time of the crash, which left the driver and guard without long term injury.

The wrecked Class 142 locomotive was written off after the accident, giving rise to a debate over the Pacer fleet’s safety. 142059 was scrapped, but the front of its cab was “preserved” and stored for more than two decades in the large undercroft beneath Manchester Victoria station. The little known underground space is off-limits to the public.

Writing on his Flickr page, urban exploration photographer phill.d explained that the subterranean area beneath Manchester Victoria was accessed via a gated tunnel portal, which can still be seen, at the end of a discrete cobbled lane called Walkers Croft. He writes: “The tunnel runs under Victoria station approach, and then opens out into a big undercroft under Victoria station.”

He added: “During the 1970’s there were plans to make a Railway tunnel under Manchester Victoria to Piccadilly station. Walkers Croft was a road built above the River Irk. It was a basement entrance to what had been the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Offices of Hunts Bank Victoria.”

It’s in this gloomy underworld that the surviving cab of 142059 has spent most of its life; a mysterious railway relic that even the most vehement opponents of the humble DMU may find intriguing, if for no other reason than the hidden location itself. Flickr users have said the abandoned cab was saved in order to be turned into a driver simulator, but this never materialised. It’s understood to item was set to be saved by the Pacer Preservation Society.

Meanwhile, the hidden remnants of the abandoned Picc-Vic Tunnel project (an underground railway to link Manchester’s Piccadilly and Victoria stations) survive today between the bustling centre of the Cottonopolis.

 

About the author: Tom

 

Website: https://www.urbanghostsmedia.com

 

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