RAIL bosses have confirmed their ageing, unpopular Pacer trains will remain in service for another six months - missing a January deadline to remove them.

It comes after Northern revealed the first three of its outdated fleet have been sent for scrap, after being placed in storage since August.

While many more are expected to be withdrawn from service in the coming weeks, the boss of Northern has admitted that rail users in Cumbria will still see Pacer services continue in the county until May.

By the end of the year, the majority of remaining fleet will be removed from customer use and will disappear from the tracks - with dozens remaining in service.

All retired Pacers will be handed back to owning company Angel Trains and stored at a railway depot in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, before being broken down and scrapped.

As the old rolling stock is phased out of the fleet, scores of new state-of-the-art trains are being gradually introduced across Northern’s network.

Initially introduced by British Rail as a short term measure, some Pacers have been operating for almost 35 years across the north of England.

David Brown, Northern’s managing director, said: “We’re delighted to be delivering on our commitments of removing Pacers from customer service and, at the same time, introducing 101 brand new trains.

“While Pacers have served the north well, we know that they are old, outdated and not popular with our customers. For these reasons, when we won the right to being operating the franchise in 2016, we developed plans to remove them all from service.

“At least 55 of the 102 Pacers will be permanently retired by the end of this year, with the remainder all gone by May.

“We are transforming our business and service to customers with a £600m investment in brand new and refurbished trains – and improvements at stations – that will provide everything a 21st century customer expects.”

The race to remove the Pacers follows the introduction of new disability legislation, which comes into force on January 1, 2020.

Those regulations state that trains should be equipped with several new factors - including being wheelchair accessible - otherwise they will face a fine.

Kevin Tribley, CEO of Angel Trains added: “The first three Pacer trains coming off-lease from Northern marks the company’s move to replacing the entire fleet and its commitment to improving customer service and experience.

“Although the Pacers have served the north well for many years, their scrappage is a significant move towards an improved rail network across the region.

“As Northern’s partners, Angel Trains is committed to investing in, and creating, the railway of the future by delivering and enhancing assets that modern UK passengers deserve.

“Replacing the Pacers as they reach the end of their life-span is a natural step towards this goal.”