DAVID CAMERON today (Friday, November 7) pledges to rid the North of its decrepit ‘Pacer’ trains in a new deal for passengers, vowing: “Those trains are going.”

In an interview with The Northern Echo, the prime minister killed his own Government’s suggestion that the 30-year-old carriages could be “modernised”, rather than replaced.

Instead, Mr Cameron promised: “Bidders for the Northern franchise will be required to propose plans for the removal of Pacers when they submit their bids in 2015. So those trains are going.”

Mr Cameron's comments represent a boost for The Northern Echo's Right Lines campaign, launched in September to urge improvements to the region's rail network.

The announcement will also delight passengers alarmed by hints that the trains – widely condemned as “cattle trucks” – could survive for another decade.

But Mr Cameron also warned that fares on the Northern Rail franchise must rise to pay for the badly-needed upgrade, when the new contract starts in 2016.

The department for transport (DfT) argues local commuter fares are higher in the South – hiking the taxpayer subsidy in the North - and is consulting on proposals to phase out those differences.

For example, an annual season ticket for the 13.5 mile journey between Darlington and Middlesbrough is £928 – but Bath to Bristol, a similar distance, costs £1,504.

The prime minister said: “In terms of the fares, Northern Rail is the most heavily subsidised franchise, so we think you’ve got to get a fair balance between taxpayer and fare-payer to lead to these improvements.

“What we want to see is more frequency, more capacity, higher quality and that will require everybody to play their part.”

According to the DfT, Northern Rail received £707m from the taxpayer in 2013-14 – or 51.5p per passenger mile – while South West Trains returned a surplus of £64.1m (1.7p per mile).

However, the Campaign for Better Transport has condemned the “myth” of cheaper fares in the North – insisting they are “very similar across the regions”, while the South gobbles up investment.

Confirmation that fares will rise is likely to come next month, when the specifications for the new Northern Rail and TransPennine Express franchises are published.

The operators run services to Darlington, Durham City, Bishop Auckland, Chester-le-Street, Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Redcar, Sunderland, Newton Aycliffe, Redcar, Northallerton, York and Scarborough.

More details on replacing the 90 remaining Pacers could come in a December 3 ‘mini Budget’, which Chancellor George Osborne has already pledged will focus on the North’s poor transport links.

Brought in as a stop-gap in the mid-1980s, they are noisy, uncomfortable and fit poorly to the track, with slow acceleration and a need to brake early for station stops - making delays all-too common in autumn and winter.

The DfT had said the Pacers could yet be “modernised”, because new trains may not be ready for 2020, when will fall foul of disability discrimination laws.

Martin Abrams, public transport campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport said: "Pacers are the bone shaking embodiment of the lack of investment northern rail services have seen in recent decades.

"Increasing fares across the Northern network to pay for replacements is a blunt instrument that will penalise those that rely on rail the most. What Northern Rail needs is a carefully thought through and coherent plan which improves services and does not put the financial burden of paying for better trains solely on already hard pressed fare payers."

Mr Cameron’s pledge today steals a march on both the Liberal Democrats and Labour, after Nick Clegg attacked the “decrepit” Pacers – but said he couldn’t “wave a magic wand”.

Last month, Labour’s transport spokeswoman Mary Creagh refused to guarantee the Pacers would be replaced, or to rule out higher local fares in the North.

Ms Creagh was moved – to international development – in Ed Miliband’s Wednesday night reshuffle, replaced by Barnsley MP Michael Dugher.

In the interview, Mr Cameron said there was “real enthusiasm” among Labour local council leaders in the North for his big push on better transport.

He said: “The work the Chancellor and I am doing on improving infrastructure in the North of England is, I think, absolutely fundamental to the future of the country.

“I’m delighted that so many leaders of local authorities in the North of England - irrespective of their party affiliation - are really up for this.”