UK rail operators withdraw some Hitachi trains due to cracks

© Reuters.

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government asked the rail industry on Sunday to urgently announce how it was going to deal with disruption to services after several operators were forced to withdraw part of their fleets because of cracks discovered on certain trains.

Checks carried out on Saturday on Class 800 Series trains made by Japan’s Hitachi identified cracks on part of the chassis of some trains, prompting operators including GWR and LNER to remove all their trains of that class.

“I have directed the rail industry to urgently set out a comprehensive plan to ensure services can safely resume as soon as possible,” Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said in a statement.

“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.”

Hitachi apologised to passengers and operators, saying the trains had been withdrawn as a precautionary measure.

“We are working as quickly and safely as possible to investigate the issue across the remainder of the fleets,” it said in a statement posted on Twitter.

GWR, which operates services between London and various destinations in western and southwestern England and in Wales, said it had cancelled a significant number of its services.

It said it expected disruption to continue on Monday and into the week ahead.

“The problem continues to be investigated by Hitachi and once trains have been checked and cleared, we hope to be able to release them back into service as soon as possible,” said GWR, which is owned by FirstGroup.

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LNER, which operates services between London and cities in eastern and northeastern England and in Scotland, gave similar information on its website, urging passengers not to attempt to travel on Sunday and promising to rebook or refund tickets.

The rail minister warned passengers that disruptions were likely to continue “for some time”, calling on operators to organise replacement bus and coach services to help alleviate the problem.

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