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Increase in transport capacity and services thanks to the return of intercity trainsets 80x in to service in the UK

Increase in transport capacity and services thanks to the return of intercity trainsets 80x in to service in the UK
photo: https://www.businesstraveller.com/business-travel/2018/08/13/lner-withdraws-several-east-coast-main-line-services// LNER
26 / 05 / 2021

Both LNER and Great Western Railway were able to restore many of their intercity lines after the Road and Rail Authority reached an agreement with Hitachi and train operators on how to address the crackling problems of the 80x fleets.

After extensive discussions, the ORR has authorized some sets with minimal cracking to be returned to service, with each of them being inspected three times a day to check the condition of the lifting pocket and the steer damper bracket. All three inspections must be carried out every 24 hours if the kit is to remain in operation. Although Rail Business UK insiders said engineers believed most of the cracks were found as a result of extensive testing, additional X-ray checks are being carried out in the fleets to ensure no further cracks remain under the varnish.

The first units were put back into operation on 13 May and the following day LNER confirmed that it had 46 of its 65 IET sets at its disposal. Together with the resumption of operation of some IC225 trainsets from winter preservation, this would allow most of the planned services to be operated, although with a number of reduced performances. LNER trains will resume service to Aberdeen and Inverness soon after.

GWR has introduced an interim timetable based on the availability of 70 of its 93 trainsets. This includes half-hour intercity services between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads and hourly services to Plymouth, with alternative services extended to Penzance. London to South Wales services via Bristol Parkway will run hourly off-peak hours and half an hour during peak hours, while the North and South Cotswolds route will run hourly. The company says local stops will continue to operate as planned and additional long-distance train services will be provided on weekends to accommodate summer visitors to Devon and Cornwall.

GWR has pulled more trains from other parts of the UK to support its long-distance services, but some services will not work early in the morning and late evening. Following testing of class 387 EMU on the Berks & Hants route, IET services between London and Bedwyn were replaced by EMU service all the way to Newbury.

In addition to the three Class 387 EMUs temporarily transferred from c2c, GWR is considered to be entering into an agreement to use Class 387 from another operator. Ceo Mark Hopwood said he expects the company to then operate its temporary schedule "without resorting to any historical traction or rolling stock."

Class 387 cars are expected to operate some lines from London Paddington to Bristol Parkway and Cardiff, which were tested all the way to Bristol Parkway on 13 May.

Repair program

With many trains back into service under improved monitoring, a joint Hitachi/TOC technical team was established to oversee axle care. Engineers have reportedly indicated that the work is expected to last at least 18 months, with the 800, 802, and 385 fleets now having nearly 1,500 vehicles.

GWR staff were told on 14 May that both the Public Accounts Committee and the Transport Select Committee had requested that Hitachi attend a hearing to investigate the situation, while British government ministers allegedly spoke directly to Hitachi managers in Japan.

It is unclear how far the repair program will have an impact on the completion of class 803 trains for FirstGroup or class 810 for East Midlands Railway, which are currently under construction. However, Rail Business UK understands that the delivery of class 805 and 807 trains for Avanti West Coast is likely to be delayed, with the entry of these trains into profitable service being rescheduled from 2022 to 2023.

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