Rail passengers are facing “significant” disruption across the network as a number of high-speed trains undergo precautionary checks after cracks were found.
Great Western Railway (GWR), Hull Trains, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and TransPennine Express (TPE) trains of the Hitachi 800 model were taken out of service for “safety checks as a precautionary measure” on Saturday morning.
GWR has warned that the problem could affect Sunday services too.
Hitachi Rail has apologised for the disruption caused.
⚠️ #LNERUpdate Due to a problem under investigation, services route wide are subject to delays and cancellations. Please DO NOT TRAVEL, tickets will be valid up to and including Sunday 16th May 2021 (a new reservation MUST be made). pic.twitter.com/d0RboKh2pK
— London North Eastern Railway (@LNER) May 8, 2021
A spokesman said: “We are working with all partners to resolve this issue as quickly and safely as possible.
“We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to passengers for the impact this may be causing for their travel plans.”
GWR said cracks were detected on “more than one” Hitachi 800 train, so all 93 Hitachi 800s in their fleet are being inspected as a “precaution”.
The company added that “roughly 10” of the Hitachi 800s are now back in service after being inspected and found to be safe.
A spokesman said: “There’s a crack that’s been spotted and as a result of that – as a precaution – we’re checking all the trains, and while that’s taking place it’s better that they’re not used.
“It’s been found in more than one train, but we don’t know exactly how many trains because the fleet is still being inspected.”
⚠️Due to a number of Intercity Express Trains taken out of service for precautionary checks, there will be significant disruption across the network today
Customers are advised not to travel
Full Refunds will be provided
Visit https://t.co/xAlpVpXwKm for more information
— Great Western Railway (@GWRHelp) May 8, 2021
Asked how long the disruption will last, the GWR spokesman said: “It’s a question of how quickly the trains can be inspected – it’s highly likely that it will certainly persist through to the end of today.
“Once more inspection has been carried out we’ll have a better understanding as to whether that disruption is going to continue into tomorrow.”
The spokesman added that the issue is affecting long-distance journeys between cities, which are being refunded, but that suburban and rural GWR services are still running as normal.
Meanwhile, all LNER services between Edinburgh, Newcastle, York and London have been disrupted and the provider has advised customers not to travel, while Hull Trains asked passengers to check before doing so.
– Train services running across the whole Hull Trains network may be cancelled.– Disruption is expected until the end of the day pic.twitter.com/6caoMHy8QQ
— Hull Trains (@Hull_Trains) May 8, 2021
LNER tweeted: “Once trains have been checked, they will be released back into service as soon as possible. Please check before travel.”
Hull Trains tweeted: “This problem is being investigated by Hitachi and once trains have been checked, we hope to be able to release them back into service as soon as possible.”
“This could affect a significant number of our services and passengers should check before they travel.”
TPE said its Nova 1 trains had been affected by the issue and are being checked.
In a statement, a TPE spokesman said: “This problem is being investigated by the train manufacturer and, once trains have been checked, we hope to be able to release them back into service as soon as possible.
“This will affect a significant number of services on our Newcastle to Liverpool route and we are advising customers not to travel on this route today.”
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “RMT is fully aware of the issues that have led to the cancellation of services on LNER today and that similar problems with cracks appearing in the fleet on Great Western are also emerging.
“Hitachi needs to ensure the highest safety standards and properly investigate and rectify the issues.”
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said passengers should not be charged extra in future to pay for repairs.
“It’s welcome news that railway engineering staff have found these cracks before they led to an accident,” he said.
“This rolling stock must not be allowed back into service until we are 100% 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.”