Hitachi’s Class 800 high-speed trains, which carry passengers for UK train operating companies GWR, LNER, TPE and Hull Trains, had to be withdrawn from service after cracks were discovered in the train bogies. Almost 200 trains have been taken out of passenger service.
All of the bogies of these trains will be inspected and repair work will be carried out where necessary. This emergency intervention has caused widespread travel disruption.
Specifically, the cracks appeared on the bogies’ lifting points – blocks of aluminium – which are used in depots when trains need to be lifted off the ground. They do not play a part in the normal operation of the train and therefore there has been no risk to passenger safety. However, there is a small chance that these components could become detached.
Now, Hitachi, the rail regulator (ORR) and train operating companies leasing Class 800 trains will not put them back into service before they have undergone rigorous testing.
“Whilst some trains are starting to be reintroduced, disruption is likely for a prolonged period, particularly on GWR. [...]
“I’ve also asked all affected operators – GWR, LNER, Hull Trains and TransPennine Express - to explore all options to ensure they help people complete their journeys. That includes maintaining as many services as possible and providing additional rail replacement services.”
Other train operating companies are lending any rolling stock they can spare to the affected operators to help keep disruption to a minimum. Operators are also using alternative trains where suitable. For instance, LNER is bringing two InterCity 225 trains back this week.
Passengers have also been given the option of using trains run by other operators at no additional cost so people can still travel. In some instances, trains have been lengthened to make additional capacity available on services that are running.
Because of the frequent number of on-going checks Hitachi is performing, the number of Class 800 trains running passenger services can vary at short notice.
At the moment, GWR long-distance routes are heavily affected. Passengers on these services are advised not to travel. LNER has some high-speed trains available and is able to run limited services, but no trains north of Edinburgh.
The third operator that runs Class 800 trains, TransPennine Express (TPE), is confirming an amended timetable.
“We are sorry for any disruption experienced by passengers as a result of the necessary withdrawal of Hitachi trains on some routes. While the vast majority of the network remains unaffected, we understand that any disruption is frustrating, however our passengers’ safety must always be our first priority.
“Rail companies are working closely together to minimise any impact of the Hitachi recall wherever possible, including loaning alternative trains across the network, installing shuttle services and offering cross ticket acceptance for alternative routes.
“We also continue to work closely with Hitachi to finalise a plan to bring as many trains back in to service as quickly as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, passengers are advised that there is likely to be a reduced service on affected routes for some time so passengers should check their train operator’s website for the latest information.”
The Rail Delivery Group represents train operating companies.
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