Intercity Express door failures frustrate passengers

PROBLEMS with the doors on Hitachi Intercity Express trains newly in service on Great Western Railway have frustrated some passengers.

Delays of up to 45 minutes have been reported at places like Swansea. In some cases local commuters as well as longer distance passengers have boarded a train and then been effectively trapped on board on a stationary train for a while because the doors could not be reopened.

The bi mode IETs came into service last October, and the inaugural journey carrying transport secretary Chris Grayling from Bristol Temple Meads to London on a Class 800 was also dogged by problems, when air conditioning leaked in one vehicle and the pantograph could not be raised at Maidenhead, which was at that time the start of the electrified section, because of a technical error while the train was being prepared for service.

A spokesman for GWR pointed out: “The Intercity Express Trains continue to perform well in service, successfully completing over 60 long distance journeys every day, covering in excess of 40,000 miles (64,000km) every week, and with each train providing up to 24 per cent more seats than the High Speed Train it replaces.

“There have been a small number of isolated issues with the operation of IET doors, which has occasionally meant it has spent longer at stations than expected.

“This is currently being investigated and we are sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

Meanwhile the first completed Class 802s, which have been designed mainly for services to the south west of England, have been unveiled at a Hitachi manufacturing site in Italy, near Pisa.

Hitachi said the original differences between the 800s and 802s are being reduced, because the 800s are also being retrospectively fitted with the same type of larger fuel tanks.

Clearance tests for the IETs are continuing in the south west this spring, although at least one IET has already been worked through on the main line to Penzance as part of an engineering trial.

It is hoped that the first 802s could enter service on the route between London and Cornwall in July.

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