A Class 144 DMU donated by Porterbrook has been officially opened as a special educational facility at The Dales School in Blythdale.
The vehicles were converted into a new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths facility by industrial service provider TEXO for use at the school where more than half the students have special educational needs and disabilities. It can also be used to teach independent train travel and railway safety for students who have never travelled by rail before.
Headteacher Sue Fisher said: ‘Dr Sue Fisher, Dales School Headteacher, said: “Everyone at The Dales School is delighted that our train is finally ready to share with everyone. The train has carriages devoted to reading and the new STEAM carriage is now ready for passengers! We want to thank all the businesses, funders, staff and organisations that have helped us get here. We could not have done this without their fantastic generosity, hard work, and support. The children at The Dales School, and beyond, will benefit so much and we hope they will remain Friends of The Dales for many years to come.’
Network Rail supported the project by donating a section of track and a buffer stop, while other organisations have backed it with materials, funds and labour. This STEAM carriage will feature VR technology, as well as a new cause and effect section for students to role play as train drivers and operate things like the train’s wipers and lights. This is intended to help encourage early career aspirations and to help children with sensory needs to experience the sounds and sights of the railway.
Porterbrook Head of Asset Protection and Infrastructure Development Kevin Eley said: ‘It’s been a pleasure supporting this project and seeing one of our retired trains get a new lease on life. We hope that this Pacer train has many more years of life as a tool to engage, educate and inspire young people.’
Funding was provided by The Laurel Trust, Hargreaves Foundation, The Platten Family Trust, The Masons, and Dreager, plus the Harrison Foundation.