Sunday 12 September 2021

Cracks on Hitachi Trains Caused by Fatigue & Stress Corrosion

Cracking that led to high-speed trains being withdrawn from service was down to fatigue and stress corrosion, a government report has found.

Around 180 Hitachi trains were taken out of service after cracks were found on trains used by Great Western Railway (GWR) and London North Eastern Railway (LNER) leading to severe delays and cancellations for travellers.

The Office of Rail and Road have published an interim review and  full report to find the "root cause" of the cracking will be published in December.

 The ORR report said the cracks found in the Hitachi Class 800 and 385 series lifting plates were the result of stress corrosion, and cracks in shock absorbers called yaw dampers were a result of fatigue.

GWR previously said the hairline cracks were "in areas where the suspension system attaches to the vehicle body on two trains".

The report said that the industry moved quickly to withdraw the trains once the problem was identified, and trains that were able to return to service have performed as expected with no unsafe conditions or harm arising from cracking.

However, Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser, said the decision to withdraw the trains had been "sensible".

He added: "Since then, the majority of trains have been put back into service with no unsafe conditions and no harm arising from the cracking."

GWR said it has not yet been informed of when the Hitachi IET trains will be repaired.

Manufacturer of the trains, Hitachi is contracted to provide GWR and LNER with enough trains each day to fulfil the timetable.

A Hitachi Rail spokesman said the interim report demonstrated the amount of "independently verified" assessments the firm had done to keep trains running safely.

He said: "Our enhanced maintenance regime is helping to deliver stable passenger service, while we work tirelessly with all partners on long-term solutions."

A GWR spokesman said it continues to operate at a "slightly reduced capacity" and had struggled with contingency stock.

Each time a train leaves the GWR depot, the cracks are inspected, and no worsening has been found, he added. Currently there are about 65 out of the 93-strong fleet.

The full report can be read here