Cracks in the chassis of some Class-800 Series Hitachi trains has led to the withdrawal of services and disruption for passengers travelling with GWR, LNER and TransPennine Express.
Most of GWR’s fleet and a significant number of LNER and TransPennine Express trains have been taken off the network after an inspection on May 8, 2021 identified cracks on the lifting points under the carriage of some Class-800 trains.
“We understand the frustration caused and we would like to apologies for the inconvenience caused to passengers and operators”, Hitachi said.
According to the Department for Transport, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris has requested a comprehensive plan from Hitachi to identify the extent of the cracking and whether carriages can still run safely with them.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) will assist in overseeing these efforts.
“I expect operators to explore all options for replacement services to help people complete their journeys, and have asked Hitachi for a safety inspection plan, as well as longer term repair strategy,” Heaton-Harris said in a statement. “Our focus is to ensure trains are returned to service as quickly as possible, once they are fully approved as safe.”
Commenting on the withdrawal of Class-800 trains, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “RMT is fully aware of the issues that have led to the cancellation of services on LNER…and that similar problems with cracks appearing in the fleet on Great Western are also emerging.
“Hitachi needs to ensure the highest safety standards and properly investigate and rectify the issues.
“This situation demonstrates once again that it is reckless for the rail companies and the DfT to move the industry to diluted, risk-based maintenance regimes which extends maintenance cycles on rolling stock or on the infrastructure, whether that be on the mainline railway or on the tube and metro services, to cut costs and strip out staff.”
According to DfT, significant disruption is expected throughout next week due to the withdrawal of services.