Thursday 13 May 2021

Hitachi Rail and rail industry agree service recovery plan to get trains back

Hitachi Rail, train operators, and government have agreed, with oversight from the Office of Rail and Road, a service recovery plan to safely reintroduce more 800 Series and 385 Series trains to the network.

The fleet of 800 series trains was removed from service as a precaution at the weekend when cracks were found on some trains.

Following extensive safety checks on their trains, Transpennine Express, Hull Trains and ScotRail have been able to operate services across all of their routes since last weekend.

After further rigorous safety checks involving ORR’s HM Railway Inspectorate, GWR and LNER will now begin reintroducing trains with a more regular service for passengers. Trains on some routes may be less frequent than usual and train availability could vary, for a number of reasons, so passengers should continue to check with the operators before they travel.

Passengers are being advised to check the latest travel advice from their train operator. Eligible passengers are also being encouraged to claim refunds.

Service Recovery Plan

The service recovery plan follows joint work between Hitachi Rail, train operators and the regulator around the safe return to service of some trains. Since discovering the faults, Hitachi Rail engineers and independent experts have completed rigorous tests and research to gain a clearer understanding of the cracking issue.

Based on the work undertaken to understand the issue, and after extensive engagement, Hitachi Rail and train operators, working with the rail regulator, have put in place suitable criteria for the trains to meet before they can re-enter service.

The service recovery plan includes thorough inspections by specialist teams before trains leave the depot. Trains will only re-enter service if they meet agreed safety criteria. Working with Hitachi Rail, the rail regulator will continue to carry out rigorous oversight to ensure robust processes are being followed.

Over time, trains will be subject to a Forward Repair Plan, which will ensure the long-term continued safe running of the fleet.

Andrew Barr, Group CEO of Hitachi Rail, said:

“Today’s agreement sets out our joint plan for the phased reintroduction of our trains into service, which will continue to deliver the highest possible safety standards. Safety remains our number one priority, and we and our partners have worked round the clock to agree an approach that allows the return of trains to service where they have been deemed safe.

“With our service recovery plan now underway, the operators will begin reintroduction of trains as they are individually approved and deemed safe. We would like to thank our partners for their ongoing support as we work collectively to reintroduce more trains into service.”

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the Rail Delivery Group, said:

“The safety of passengers has been the absolute focus for each of the organisations involved in making decisions about these trains over recent days. After some incredibly hard and detailed work, Hitachi’s engineers have worked with train operators and the rail regulator to safely bring some trains back into service. Over the coming days we will be able to get passengers on the affected routes moving again, but for now passengers should continue to check before they travel.”

HM Chief Inspector of Railways at the Office of Rail and Road, Ian Prosser CBE said:

“We’ve engaged with Hitachi and the train companies to oversee their development of a safe and suitable plan.

“We’re also continuing to provide the rigorous oversight needed to make sure the right checks are being carried out so that the trains are able to re-enter passenger service safely.”

Mark Hopwood, GWR Managing Director, said:

“Our customers have shown great patience over the past couple of days, and I am grateful for their understanding as we have worked with Hitachi to allow trains to return safely. This news will allow us to run some additional services today and reintroduce more consistent robust timetables for customers after the weekend.

“The industry has come together to help support those travelling – with other operators allowing each other’s tickets to be used on their networks; adding in extra shuttle services to help move people; and in sharing rolling stock to provide it to those who need it most.”

David Horne, LNER Managing Director, said:

“I am pleased we have been able to work as an industry to agree a service recovery plan with Hitachi and industry partners that will allow trains to return safely to our route. We are continuing to work together to begin the return of Azuma trains into service from next week. Customers should continue to check before they travel with LNER and I apologise for the disruption caused.”

10th May 2021

I promised to keep you updated on the situation with our long distance trains.  Hitachi investigations continue and they are working hard to put remedial plans in place.  For now however, it is clear that we will need to operate without the vast majority of our Intercity Express Trains for a while.

Our advice therefore remains not to travel on our long distance routes.  Refunds can be claimed through our website www.gwr.com, or tickets can be used for travel on services later this week or at the weekend.

Local, branch and regional services are unaffected.

We are working on options that will help us to operate a limited long distance timetable.  It will be much reduced, but we are looking at every option to see what can be done to keep customers moving.

This includes looking at trains that might be available and can be moved from other parts of the country, including Charter trains, using buses for some journeys, agreeing ticket acceptance on other train services and making the best use of our other fleets including extending the use of our Thames Valley electric fleet to Swindon.

Details of the revised timetable will be entered into journey planners by Network Rail and should be in place from midnight tonight, we will also provide updates on our website www.gwr.com  We have brought more staff into stations and onto our social media platforms to help with advice and we will do our best to keep everyone informed.

We are very grateful for the messages of support for our teams as they work to put new arrangements in place.  It will be challenging and it is likely to mean that those trains that are in service are busy.

As soon as we have more news from Hitachi on when the IETs will be back in service we will update you.

15th March 2021

 

Just a quick note to alert you to a change in our compensation arrangements.  You will know that we have been paying compensation for delays over 15 minutes to daily and weekly ticket holders for some time.  Season ticket holders however claimed through a discount on renewal.

We have now had approval from the Department for Transport to extend Delay Repay 15 to our season ticket holders and this will take affect from Thursday 1 April.  There is more information on our website www.gwr.com/delayrepay and we are writing to all our season ticket holders to let them know about the change.

While writing I should also mention that Network Rail will be doing lots of rail improvement work on the railway during the coming weeks. This will mean changes for rail services in Devon, Somerset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and on the North Downs.  There is more detail on www.gwr.com/upgrade

7th January 2021

From Monday (11 January) in addition to the changes already in operation we will be reducing North Downs services to two trains per hour on Saturdays and in the off peak on weekdays, and Reading/Basingstoke services will be hourly in the evenings.

 

Service frequency between London and Newbury on weekdays and Saturdays will also be reduced with shuttle services operating between Reading and Bedwyn on Sundays.

 

There are also changes to Reading/Oxford services with some services starting or finishing at Didcot.

 

The changes will help protect services vital for key workers and essential travel and will mean we continue to operate approximately 80% of our planned timetable.

 

We will be directly contacting customers who have booked online with us to offer advice and help to switch to other services, or to claim refunds.    We are also reminding customers who need to travel to check timetables on https://www.gwr.com/travel-updates/check-your-journey before they set out.

 

We will be keeping the timetable under review, particularly given the new national lockdown in England and will work with the Department for Transport on any further changes.

1st January 2021

We are still seeing staff reductions, and as you will know we have also now had further Tier 3 and Tier 4 announcements. We will therefore continue to run the temporary timetable next week (commencing Monday 4 January).  Details are on our website gwr.com and we are reminding customers to check timetables before they travel.

 

We know how important it is to offer consistent, robust timetables.  We want to avoid ad hoc on the day cancellations, and we know customers need information more than a week ahead.  We are therefore working with government and colleagues to review our January/February timetable, taking into account the latest changes to tiers.

27th October 2020

Network Rail Wales & Western are continuing their programme of rail improvement works keeping the railway safe and reliable.

The planned engineering work will protect the route between Reading and Taunton for years ahead and ensure the safety of train services between London and the South West. As a result of these works, we will be unable to operate some trains as normal on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 November.

More information can be found on our website at www.GWR.com/Wessex, and the key details are listed below.

As we get closer to the work taking place, we will be letting customers know about the temporary changes through traditional and social media, and through information on trains and at stations. Any help you can give us with that will be great, and if you do have any further questions, or pick up any concerns or queries, please feel free to pass them on.

Updated details of GWR changes at this time are posted on the website: https://www.gwr.com/safety