Ainscough Crane Hire has played a pivotal role in giving a new lease of life to a historic Pacer train.
Northern has now retired the trains, which have been a regular sight throughout the north of England for the past forty years. Since their retirement, the Department for Transport has run a competition to find innovative new uses for Pacer carriages.
Platform 1, a men’s mental health charity, was one of three winners of the Transform a Pacer competition and will be converting their Pacer into a kitchen to teach cooking skills to those they support. The charity, located at the former Platform 1 of Huddersfield Station, already uses retired train carriages as a safe space, counselling, and learning environment to help hundreds of local men deal with mental health issues.
Ainscough Crane Hire was appointed by Northern to lift the train carriage into position at Huddersfield Station on 10 July 2021.
The 15-tonne carriage was lifted into position overnight by an LTM 1500-8.1 crane positioned on St George’s Street, hoisting it over the high wall into the station.
Ainscough’s work on the project began just before Christmas 2020 when Bob Beardmore, Ainscough’s Heavy Cranes Technical Manager, undertook a site visit at the station to inspect where the carriage would be lifted.
When the time came to complete the lift, Bob and his colleagues had to navigate the difficult situation of positioning the LTM 1500-8.1 crane with a 60m radius in the heart of St George’s Square outside the Head of Steam pub and opposite a student accommodation block – a busy area heavily populated with street furniture.
A road closure was obtained from the local authority and a significant amount of trees were temporarily removed. Ainscough then ensured outriggers and mats were fitted to coincide with the remaining street furniture/bollards layout.
BAM Nuttall, the lead contractor on the project, designed a platform for the crane to sit on. The platform had a 250ml base on an ekki timber mat pad with 12 mats providing support under each outrigger.
On top of these mats were 7.5 x 2.2 steel RLRL mats. A ramp to drive the crane onto the platform was also created.
In total, 66 mats in addition to 70 ethafoam panels were utilised.
On the Saturday afternoon, A LTM 1055-3.2 crane was deployed to position the mats and platform ready for the 500t to arrive at 9 pm that night. Given the unusual nature of the lift, the crane and all the support vehicles had police escorts.
Ainscough’s team worked hard through the night to safely complete the lift, with a lively audience of Huddersfield partygoers cheering on their delivery of the Pacer to its new home. The lift was successfully completed by 5am on Sunday morning.
Commenting on his team’s work, Bob Beardmore said: “I would like to pay tribute to all my colleagues and our partners on the scheme who helped fulfil this brilliant project. The unusual nature and location of the lift meant we had to think creatively in order to safely and efficiently get this Pacer to its new home. Getting the 500t crane to safely sit in the centre of a public square was always going to be a challenge, but it is one we more than rose to. I’d like to wish the team at Platform One all the best with the brilliant work they’ll be undertaking from this Pacer.”
Ainscough’s project team included:
• 500te operators – Marcus Hirst & Andrew Walls.
• 55te Operator – Dave Ruddock
• Hiab Operator – Chris Mchale
• Supervisor 1 – Bob Beardmore
• Supervisor 2 Tony Skeldon
• Slinger – Ashley Fletcher
• Slinger – John Taylor
The train delivered to Platform 1 was provided by rolling stock company Porterbrook and has been in service since 1986, travelling over three million miles across the network in that time.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said: “It’s not every day you get to see a train suspended metres above a station. This has been a fantastic project for everyone involved and I am so pleased that this Pacer will support the exceptional and important work Platform 1 do in the local community.”
Gez Walsh, Project Leader at Platform 1, said: ”The Pacer trains may not have been popular in their working life, but this one will be cherished in its retirement. This train will now take people on a journey of development and deliver them to a more happy, secure life.”
Tricia Williams, Chief Operating Officer at Northern, said: “We’re delighted to be able to make a positive impact by helping Platform 1 expand the already outstanding support they offer to the wider Huddersfield community. Our Pacers gave many decades’ service to those same communities and now that they’ve been replaced on our network by brand new trains, it’s great to see one of those old carriages being given a new lease of life as a hub for Platform 1.”