Pacer train turned into library for special educational needs school

  • Report by Rachel Bullock

In a unique project, a real life, full size Pacer train has been donated to a school for them to turn into both a library, and a learning resource for independent living for their students.

The Dales school is a specialist primary school with two sites: Blythdale and Ashdale. They work with pupils with special educational needs and disabilities - more than half the children at the Dales School have never been on a real train.

The children...and parents were very excited to see it arrive!

As well as a ‘Reading Together Library’ to help engage children with reading, the school will use the train in various other ways.They will develop a Railway course to help children develop career aspirations linked around the railway, using a train driving simulator as a way to make learning engaging and fun. The train will also be used to teach independent train travel as well as railway safety, which they say will be particularly important when the new Northumberland line is opened in 2024. 

The train was donated by Porterbrooks.

Stuart Cutmore, Porterbrooks Maintenance Services Support manager stated, “It is every child's dream to have a real life train in their school yard. We are delighted the Pacer trains can be put to use for such inspirational projects that will help not just a school but a whole community”.  

“At Porterbrook, we are committed where possible to repurposing retired rolling stock as part of our efforts to make Britain’s railway more sustainable.”

Network rail is also supporting the project. They are donating the railway track and providing the labour to lay the track in the school yard. They have also donated a buffer for the train to rest, which means the train will actually look like it's on the tracks!

Dr Sue Fisher, Headteacher at The Dales said, “We are extremely grateful to Porterbrook and Network Rail for supporting such an engaging and unique project. They truly have made a dream come true to our children.

"The train will provide children with engaging learning opportunities and offer children with additional needs a chance to learn new travel skills, develop career aspirations and a lifelong love of reading”.