ORR Launches Review into Hitachi Class 800 and 385 Crack Issues

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has launched a ‘lessons learned’ review into the cracking issue on the Hitachi-built Class 800 (AT300) and Class 385 (AT200) trains.

The review, which is to provide valuable insights to the rail industry as a whole, will address both safety and passenger impacts. The ORR will work with Hitachi Rail and other relevant parties to determine the underlying cause of the cracks in the trains’ jacking plate and on the mount of the yaw damper bracket. The review will look into industry processes that assess safety risk and into the trains’ withdrawal from and return to service.

GWR Hitachi Class 800 train at Paddington
GWR Hitachi Class 800 train at Paddington

Technical areas, such as the design, manufacture and maintenance; process issues (how the different parties worked together); and responsibilities for inspection, maintenance, repair and remedial action will be examined in-depth by the review and it will seek to determine how these areas could be improved.

The ORR will also work with the affected train operating companies – GWR, LNER, TPE and Hull Trains – as well as other industry bodies to assess whether the travel information given to passengers during the weekend of 8 May and the following week was consistent. ScotRail, which operates the Class 385 trains, will not be included in this portion as the impact on its passengers was minimal.

The ORR will also investigate whether passengers were given the correct ticket refund information and that this was accepted by operators. The regulator will further check that passengers who had booked assistance were properly contacted and that they had been offered alternative travel arrangements.

As regards a timeline, the ORR will publish its report on the passenger impacts by 25 June. It will then publish an initial report in September that will look at the history, withdrawal and reintroduction of the trains. A final report will then be released once the long-term rectification programme has been established.

John Larkinson, Chief Executive, ORR, said:

“The lessons learned review is an important step in ensuring something like this doesn't happen again.

“Our wide ranging review will focus on the complex safety issues, covering technical, process and contractual issues. We will also review the impact on passengers and whether passengers received the right information and were appropriately compensated.”

The service recovery plan saw most of the trains return to passenger service from 13 May.

Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, ORR, said:

“While we’ve continued to engage with Hitachi and train companies, to oversee their development of a safe and suitable plan to make sure the right checks are being carried out to enable trains to run, now is the right time to ensure we understand more and the industry can learn lessons.

“The service recovery plan saw the majority of trains become available to run in service safely from 13 May, following joint work between Hitachi Rail, train operators and the regulator.”

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