Passengers reassured over train safety after cracks found

Train manufacturer Hitachi Rail has reassured passengers after many of its new trains were stopped amid safety concerns.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 1:18 pm

The company’s new class 800 Inter-City Express Trains for the Great Western Main Line, between London and the South-West, and East Coast Main Line, between London and Scotland, via Newcastle, were temporarily withdrawn from service after cracks were found.

Several Hitachi Rail-built ScotRail class 385 regional trains were then found to have hairline cracks as part of the widespread safety investigation.

Passengers have suffered widespread delays and cancellations as trains were stopped to be inspected.

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Andrew Barr, Hitachi Rail chief executive officer, apologised to passengers and said the trains were withdrawn because of cracks found on the metal that linked the train's body with the underside of the train.

A Hitachi Rail spokesman said: “We continue to make progress with the Office of Rail and Road, operators and industry experts to finalise the service recovery plan for the Class 800 and Class 385 trains currently not in service.“We want to reassure passengers planning to travel on those trains that they will only operate once they have completed the appropriate precautionary safety assessments.

“Our investigations have given us a thorough understanding of the issue and we are making progress with our partners to return trains to service safely.

“We continue to thank passengers for their patience and apologise for any disruption.”

An artist's impression of East Midlands Railway's new Aurora trains, which are currently under construction.
An artist's impression of East Midlands Railway's new Aurora trains, which are currently under construction.

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‘Fundamentally different’ trains

Hitachi Rail has just started to build new class 810 Aurora trains for East Midlands Railway’s high-speed services on the Midland Main Line between London and Sheffield, via Chesterfield.

However, EMR said the Auroras are “fundamentally different” to the IETs, with a different bodyshell and shorter carriages, so could not be directly compared.

Inside Hitachi Rail's train manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

The Hitachi spokesman said: “The manufacturing and delivery of fleets is not impacted and we continue to work with all partners in delivering those trains.”

Several new trains built for Northern Trains by Spanish manufacturer CAF and occasionally seen on Leeds-Nottingham services, via Chesterfield, were also withdrawn from service last month after problems were found.

A Northern spokesman said: “The fault affected the mounting of the yaw dampers, a system designed to reduce swaying motion in the carriage, and resulted in 22 trains being removed from service while it was investigated.”

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