Class 142: The Bus that Became a Train (Fonthill)

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An illustrated history of the Class 142 `Pacer’ railbuses that were a common sight on the railways, particularly in the North of England, from the mid-1980s until 2020.

In the early 1980s, British Rail was facing an acute shortage of rolling stock for lightly-used rural lines and some suburban routes. The British Rail Class 142 was an attempt to produce a low-cost lightweight train to replace the worn-out and elderly first-generation BR Diesel Multiple Unit fleet that had been introduced in the late 1950s.

The concept was a marriage of proven bus technology and traditional railway chassis. It involved utilising the modular Leyland National bus body, mounted on a substantial steel 4-wheel underframe and powered by conventional underfloor diesel engines.

When first introduced from 1985 onwards, Class 142 presented a fresh, bright and clean image, breathing new life into many suburban and rural services. Soon after their introduction, serious reliability problems began to surface which necessitated much re-engineering and changes to the original design. Despite these setbacks, the class remained in everyday service for 35 years – far longer than most of the first-generation fleet that they replaced.

Class 142: The Bus that Became a Train tells the story of the class, including an in-depth examination of how the 142s were maintained, serviced and operated. It also includes coverage of the various interior fittings and layouts. Well illustrated in colour throughout. 96 pages.

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