United Kingdom

Rail chaos will last all week as probe continues into cracks on long-distance trains

Rail passengers were last night facing at least another week of chaos after cracks were discovered under some trains.

Hundreds of long-distance services were partially or fully cancelled over the weekend.

The cracks were discovered during tests early on Saturday on the chassis area of some Hitachi Class 800 series trains. 

A total of 182 were taken out of service that day with a number returned to the network by yesterday after being given the all-clear.

But last night Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris warned disruption was 'likely to continue for some time'. 

Rail passengers were last night facing at least another week of chaos after cracks were discovered under some trains. Hundreds of long-distance services were partially or fully cancelled over the weekend. The cracks were discovered during tests early on Saturday on the chassis area of some Hitachi Class 800 series trains (pictured) [File photo]

Industry sources said it could last until at least the end of the week. Safety watchdog the Office of Rail and Road is overseeing the process.

Engineers were checking carriages at depots near London and Bristol last night.

Great Western Railway, which runs trains to South West England and South Wales, and London North Eastern Railways, which serves the East Midlands, the North and Scotland, were worst affected.

Mr Heaton-Harris said: 'Our focus is to ensure trains are returned to service as quickly as possible once they are fully approved as safe. I want to thank passengers for their patience during what could be a significant period of prolonged disruption likely to continue for some time.'

GWR had previously detected hairline cracks underneath a handful of Hitachi trains in late April.

It is thought this led to further cracks being discovered elsewhere, leading to the 182-strong fleet of Hitachi 800s being taken out of service. 

Great Western Railway, which runs trains to South West England and South Wales, and London North Eastern Railways, which serves the East Midlands, the North and Scotland, were worst affected [File photo]

The new cracks, measuring millimetres, are understood to be on the mechanism used to jack-up carriages when they are being fixed.

It is not believed they pose an immediate danger.

Robert Nisbet, of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents rail firms, warned there may be a 'knock-on effect to some timetables into next week'.

Hitachi trains have speeds of 125mph and came into service in 2017.

Hitachi Rail said: 'Safety is our number one priority. We are working as quickly and safely as possible to investigate the issue.'

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