Posted 7th March 2016 | 3 Comments
Heathrow problems go on, but Northern rules out link
DISRUPTION of train services to Heathrow Airport is continuing for a second week, after the Heathrow Express Class 332 fleet was withdrawn for urgent safety checks a week ago.
Heathrow Connect trains are being used to provide Heathrow Express, while the Connect service, which provides local trains between London Paddington, Hayes and Heathrow, remains suspended. Some additional GWR services have been provided, and are calling at stations between London and Hayes.
Heathrow Express has reduced its fares to compensate for the lack of on-board WiFi and power sockets.
No firm date has been announced for the end of the crisis. The National Rail Enquiries site says until 'at least 8 March', while the Heathrow Express site suggests that the present emergency arrangements could continue until the 10th.
Engineers from the builders of the Class 332 fleet, CAF and Siemens, have been helping to check the underframes of the fleet at Old Oak Common, where a crack was reportedly discovered on Sunday 29 February. Heathrow Express has described the problem as a 'structural defect'.
Meanwhile, industry attention has turned to the Class 333 electric sets which Northern Rail operates between Leeds and Bradford, because they were built in Spain at about the same time by the same consortium of Siemens and CAF. However, Northern told Railnews that a check of their fleet had revealed no problems.
In a related incident, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch has been considering the implications of an incident at Northern’s Allerton depot, where a fitter received an electric shock on 29 February while working on one of the recently-arrived ex-Thameslink Class 319s.
Northern said the shock had been ‘low voltage’ and had been derived from a battery. The fitter involved was taken to hospital but discharged after a routine examination.
Northern said the RAIB and ORR inspectors had been ‘satisfied’ with the actions taken after the incident, and that it was not necessary to withdraw any Class 319 units as a result. However, working instructions for depot staff may be amended to avoid a similar occurrence again.
Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.