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Major rail disruption to continue 'into next week' after cracks found in trains
9 May 2021, 10:02 | Updated: 9 May 2021, 16:09
Major travel disruption will continue on Sunday and into the following week after cracks were found on new trains, rail operators have said.
Hundreds of Hitachi 800 model trains were taken out of service on Saturday as a "precautionary measure" after hairline cracks were found on the underside of some carriages.
Hull Trains and Transpennine Express have reintroduced their trains to service after they passed safety inspections, but major disruption is continuing elsewhere, with just 10 percent of long-distance trains running on some services.
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has advised customers "to not travel" on Sunday, including on key inter-city routes from London to Glasgow and Aberdeen.
"We’re doing everything we can to get services up and running again and we're sorry for any disruption to your journey today," LNER added.
⛔️ #LNERUpdate A number of Class 800 series Hitachi trains from several train companies have been taken out of service as a precautionary measure. This problem is being investigated by Hitachi.— London North Eastern Railway (@LNER) May 9, 2021
For updates on individual services, please visit https://t.co/OmFNCx20Bz
Similarly, Great Western Railway warned "a significant number of long-distance services will be cancelled on Sunday 9 May and disruption is expected to continue into the following week."
On Saturday, a spokesperson for the rail company said a crack was spotted in multiple trains which they operate, so all 93 Hitachi 800s in their fleet are now being inspected as a "precaution".
The spokesperson 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."
Just 12 out of GWR's 93 Hitachi 800 trains are back on the tracks, with 90 percent of long-distance services cancelled, spokesman Dan Panes told Sky News.
Hitachi Rail has apologised for the disruption caused, which they said is related to cracks on lifting points used for maintenance.
A spokesman 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.
"Having been cleared for service, some trains are now running again across the network."
However, Hitachi Rail CEO Andrew Barr has said he cannot put a timeframe on how long it will take to fix the trains, opening up the possibility of long-term disruption to the UK's inter-city travel links.
Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris has asked operators to deploy extra staff to help passengers complete their journeys and access refunds.
He added: "I share the frustration of passengers who are experiencing significant disruption, and would ask people whose journeys are affected to check before travelling."
Hitachi Trains: After cracks were identified on the chassis of some Hitachi trains this morning, rigorous checks being undertaken before they can return to the network. Disappointing to see significant disruption for rail passengers, but safety must be the priority. (1/3)— Chris Heaton-Harris MP (@chhcalling) May 8, 2021
Mr Heaton-Harris added that he had spoken with the Office of Rail and Road who will be conducting "an independent safety investigation into the issues".