Home News Rail chaos will continue into next week as cracks are found

Rail chaos will continue into next week as cracks are found

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People planning to travel by train on the GWR mainline in and out of the West Country have been advised not to for a second day running as the concerns over the safety of the trains continue.

And GWR warned passengers planning to travel on its high speed train service in the coming week to expect problems.

Cracks discovered in the new Hitachi Class 800 high speed trains in the early hours of Saturday morning are continuing to mean widespread disruption on Britain’s rail network.

GWR has told passengers planning on going from London Paddington to Bristol, South Wales, Gloucestershire and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall that there will either be no trains or an ‘extremely limited service’.

And there are fears that the issues won’t be sorted out in time for Monday’s commuters heading to the capital from the West Country.

GWR said they were checking each and every train carriage for the cracks, which were discovered in the damping mechanism that stops the train from rocking at high speeds, and returning the trains back into service as soon as they have been given the all-clear.

But they warned the disruption is ‘expected to continue into the following week’, with the sheer scale of the issue – and the logistics of conducting the safety checks on every train in a number of train operators’ fleets at the Hitachi depot in west London – meaning it could be days, even weeks, before normal service is resumed.

In a statement from GWR, the company said local rail services that don’t use the Hitachi high speed trains, are unaffected but will be ‘extremely busy’.

GWR said: “A number of Class 800 series Hitachi trains in use by several train companies have been withdrawn from service for precautionary safety checks.

“As a result we have had to cancel a significant number of long-distance train services on Saturday 8 May and disruption is expected to continue on Sunday 9 May, and into the following week.

“Train timetables are presently being worked on and will be published as soon as possible,” the company added.

“While local services are running, we expect them to be very busy. Rail replacement services are extremely limited.

“Customers are advised not to travel on Sunday 9 May and refunds will be provided. You can find out more about claiming a refund or rebooking your journey.

“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. A further update will be provided in due course,” GWR said.



Sign at Temple Meads Station in Bristol warning passengers of the cancellation of all trains to London
Sign at Temple Meads Station in Bristol warning passengers of the cancellation of all trains to London

The Hitachi trains that would normally be running today but are now off the tracks are listed below, with GWR saying there would either be zero or extremely limited services and no alternatives provided, such as buses:

London Paddington – Swindon – Bath Spa – Bristol Temple Meads.

London Paddington – Swindon – Bristol Parkway – Newport – Cardiff Central – Swansea.

London Paddington – Reading – Taunton – Exeter St Davids – Plymouth – Penzance.

London Paddington – Reading – Oxford – Evesham – Worcester – Great Malvern – Hereford.

London Paddington – Reading – Swindon – Gloucester – Cheltenham Spa.

GWR said customers for these routes are advised not to attempt to travel. Other rail firms not affected, including Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Railway, are taking GWR passengers on ‘any reasonable’ route, although for passengers on the GWR mainline between London and the West Country, there is no real alternative.

What does the Government say?


Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris

The Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said on Saturday: “Routine checks of Hitachi trains early this morning identified cracks on part of the chassis of some trains. Safety is always our absolute priority, so these trains have been taken off the network to undergo full and rigorous checks.

“Hitachi are working to complete these strict precautionary checks. Trains will be returned to service as quickly as possible once they are fully approved as safe by the manufacturer.

“Whilst some trains are starting to be reintroduced, disruption is likely for a prolonged period, particularly on GWR.

“I share the frustration of passengers who are experiencing significant disruption, and would ask people whose journeys are affected to check before travelling.

“I’ve asked operators to ensure extra staff are on hand to help people complete their journeys safely, to increase their communications with passengers, and to make information on refunds and compensation clear.

“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.

“We’re also ensuring ticket acceptances are in place on other operators, who are looking at strengthening their services to provide passengers with alternative ways of completing their journey.




“We have also asked the industry to conduct a rapid and comprehensive review to resolve the issue.”

“I’ve asked operators to ensure extra staff are on hand to help people complete their journeys safely, to increase their communications with passengers, and to make information on refunds and compensation clear.

“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.

“We’re also ensuring ticket acceptances are in place on other operators, who are looking at strengthening their services to provide passengers with alternative ways of completing their journey.

“We have also asked the industry to conduct a rapid and comprehensive review to resolve the issue.”

Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of transport workers union TSSA, praised the engineering staff at the Hitachi depot for spotting the cracks.

“It’s welcome news that railway engineering staff have found these cracks before they led to an accident,” he said.

“It’s now absolutely vital that a full investigation is carried out into what led to these cracks. This rolling stock must not be allowed back into service until we are one hundred per cent certain these trains are safe.

“It’s important to point out that the affected trains are relatively new, in which case the manufacturers should foot the bill for any repairs, not passengers or taxpayers.,” he added.

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