SHOCK figures have shown that Northern rail's derided Pacer trains have outperformed its brand new locomotives.

For 35 years they have been heavily criticised part of the network since they came into operation during the mid-1980s.

Much maligned they have been gradually withdrawn from the network since December with some carrying on in service until their replacements arrive in the summer.

Despite promises that their £600m upgrades would be a “step change” for hard pressed passengers unpublished figures, obtained by the BBC, from industry body the Rail Development Group, show they have outperformed the company's new fleet.

In a comparison of Miles per Technical Incident figures from December to January last year the Class 195 and Class 331 trains, that were introduced last year, averaged 2,877 miles between breakdowns -the elderly Pacers however clocked on average 7,884 trouble free miles before they needed repair work.

It is the latest body-blow for the troubled train operator who is set to lose its franchise next month after Grant Shapps, secretary of state for transport, blasted its performance, saying its services are not "anywhere near acceptable”.

A company spokesperson said: “We are working hard to improve performance.

“We have delivered on our commitment to increase the number of train services – we now operate 2,000 more services each week than at the start of the franchise.

“This means we will deliver 30 per cent more train miles in 2019 than in 2016 - almost 110 million journeys will have been made using Northern trains in 2019 .

“We are delivering the biggest transformation of local rail for a generation, with 62 of our 101 new trains now in service and driver training taking place on dozens more trains right now.

"This is part of a £600 million investment, we are also continuing to invest in better stations, better offers for customers and more recruitment.

“Our new trains, which were introduced have been through rigorous testing. But, as with any new piece of equipment, there can sometimes be problems which only become apparent when in regular service.”