By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent
A giant crane will gently lift a massive train into its new home with a Huddersfield charity this weekend … and Huddersfield Hub now has the first exclusive glimpse of the train.
We can now reveal that the Pacer train is the first one ever built and has been repainted in the Platform 1 colours of black with red stripes, along with the charity’s logo.
If all goes to plan, by Saturday teatime we’ll have the bizarre sight of a train parked OUTSIDE the railway station with the crane ready to lift it in shortly after midnight.
The train will set off from Leeds at noon and the journey on a low loader is expected to take a couple of hours at least as it can’t go under or over any bridges. The crane is expected to arrive around 5pm.
Even though Platform 1 is very close to the rail lines there is no access to it from the track which is why the crane will be needed to lift it and the operation is due to start at 12.40am on Sunday morning and take up to two hours.
Platform 1 won the decommissioned train in a competition organised by the Department of Transport and legendary music producer Pete Waterman went to the charity to tell them they’d won which was then broadcast on BBC 1’s The One Show.
Pacer trains have been a familiar sight on the transPennine route for many years and are regarded as “buses on wheels” by many passengers.
Platform 1 project leader Gez Walsh said: “Watching the train being lifted onto the Platform 1 site will be quite a spectacle. It has all been very carefully planned and co-ordinated and is a very big event for us.”
READ MORE: How the Pacer train will arrive…by crane
Part of the train will be transformed into a kitchen to help charity members learn skills to help them with nutrition, employment, self-improvement and their mental health.
Half of the carriage will also be used to teach members about IT skills such as how a computer works and how to repair it, online security tips and how to use the internet for everyday tasks such as dealing with Universal Credit.
The carriage will also be used for mental health first aid training.
Gez added that the charity’s work has never been more vital, helping hundreds of men with mental health issues. Huddersfield Hub recently revealed that Covid-19 is sparking a mental health crisis in Huddersfield with a worrying upsurge in the number of people trying to take their own lives. Platform 1 has recently set up a women’s group.
The charity has also set up a freephone helpline 0800 066 2828 during the pandemic which is now averaging 70 calls a month.
Frontline services realise the incredible work the eight staff and 17 volunteers at Platform 1 are doing to help people with mental health problems and men are referred to them from just about every professional organisation in the town from community mental health services and GPs to Kirklees Council and the police.
The staff do more than counselling as they can also help people with everything from benefits to housing and also go to see people in their own homes. Platform 1 is now helping men aged from 21 to 86 but the average age is 40 to 45.
Gez said: “Our main priority is helping with crisis support and mental health. Platform 1 will help anyone who needs some support.”
Anyone who can help with the hardstanding needed for the train can contact Gez on 01484 421143.
How you can help Platform 1
Funding is always a problem, but people can easily make a donation of just £3. All you need to do is text UCARE 3 to 70085 to donate £3. The way it works is that the text costs £3 but you can donate more this way if you want. The freephone crisis number is 0800 066 2828 and the office number is 01484 421143.
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.