CRACKS have been confirmed in the chassis of a number of Hitachi-built Intercity Expresses, and serious disruption is continuing on intercity routes as emergency checks are carried out. It is not clear how many faults have been found, and some trains are returning to service.
Hitachi said: ‘Inspection has identified cracks on the lifting points under the carriage of some Class 800 trains overnight.’
Services on GWR and LNER are now those mainly affected by the mass withdrawals, and both companies are urging their passengers not to try to travel today on their intercity routes. The situation is worse north of the border, where industrial action on ScotRail is also causing cancellations.
Transpennine Express says it is able to begin reintroducing its Nova 1 trains, which are Intercity Expresses, between Newcastle and York, but that some disruption is still possible, while Hull Trains says its services have returned to normal.
Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris is calling for a ‘rapid and comprehensive review’.
He said: ‘Routine checks of Hitachi trains 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.’
Hitachi Rail CEO Andrew Barr told the BBC that the decision to withdraw the trains had been taken because of cracks found on the metal that linked the train's body ‘with the underside’.
Anonymous industry sources have been providing more details, although these remain unconfirmed. One said: ‘The issue is reported to be around metal fatigues, either in the welding or the actual components.’