Major disruption for UK rail passengers could last 'for a few days' after cracks found on high-speed trains

By Helen Johnson
Sunday, 9th May 2021, 11:31 am
Rail passengers across the UK are experiencing delays after a number of high-speed trains have been removed from service due to hairline cracks (Photo: Shutterstock)

Rail passengers in parts of the UK are continuing to experience delays after a number of high-speed trains have been removed from service due to hairline cracks.

An issue has been found with some Class 800 series Hitachi trains, which are used by Great Western Railway, London North Eastern Railways and Hull Trains.

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Disruption began on Saturday (8 May) after the cracks were discovered during routine checks, with services across parts of the UK suspended and passengers advised not to travel.

Operators have warned there will be cancellations and disruption to travel while the cracks are investigated, with passengers advised to check the schedule before travelling.

National Rail Enquiries tweeted that some trains from these three companies, as well as TransPennine Express had been taken out of service for safety checks, saying: “Once trains have been checked, they will be released back into service as soon as possible.”

On a statement on their website, Great Western Railway GWR said that the issue was “being 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.”

'We are still expecting some disruption to carry on for a few days'

The Rail Delivery Group said on Sunday (9 May) that the disruption to rail services could continue for days, with GWR and London North Eastern Railway (LNER) still advising people not to travel.

Robert Nisbet regional director at the body, told BBC Breakfast: “With the inspections completed initially by the end of today, we are still expecting some disruption to carry on for a few days.

“It’s impossible for me to say exactly how long that is going to take, but we are obviously going through this as quickly as possible, but we don’t want to rush it.

“We want to ensure that all of those trains are thoroughly inspected and cleared and put into service when things are ready, but there may well be a knock-on effect for some of those timetables into next week.”

Mr Nisbet said the cracks – measuring millimetres – are on the “lifting points on the underside of the carriages used for maintenance”.

Although he said this didn’t “pose any particular danger to passengers that were travelling on those trains,” he added that “if you don’t treat these kind of issues early on then they have the potential to develop.”

Hitachi Rail apologised on Saturday for the disruption.

A spokesperson said: “Safety is our number one priority and as a precaution, the decision was taken to halt the entry into service of our intercity fleets pending inspection.

“We understand the frustration caused and we would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused to passengers and operators."