Posted 17th October 2017 | 4 Comments

Hitachi apologises for IET launch problems

THE first Intercity Expresses have gone into service with Great Western Railway, and two Class 800 bi mode trains ran between London, Bristol and Swansea during 16 October.

However, problems on the first scheduled train carrying passengers, the 06.00 from Bristol Temple Meads to London Paddington, have been followed by an apology from the train’s builders Hitachi, who said last night that they ‘must do better’ and that an investigation of the causes is underway.

The inaugural service was carrying transport secretary Chris Grayling, but departure was delayed until 06.25 because of a minor technical fault. Worse was to come when a problem with air conditioning later in the journey caused water to drip on some passengers, and arrival in London was 41 minutes later than booked.

The units were withdrawn from service for attention at Old Oak Common after they had arrived at Paddington, which meant they could not be used on the 08.15 to Cardiff Central as planned.

A second pair of Class 800s worked the 07.00 from London to Bristol without any problems on board.

Chris Grayling shrugged off the faults after his journey from Bristol, telling The Independent: “I think the train’s fantastic. A few teething problems but the reality is that this is going to transform Intercity rail travel in the UK – not just here on the Great Western line, but on the East Coast main line and the Transpennine route.

“What passengers really care about is having a smart, new train, high-quality wi-fi, lots of seats. This is the future of intercity railways.”

The managing director of Hitachi Rail in Europe, Karen Boswell, said: “Today marked an important milestone for Hitachi and the partners in the Intercity Express programme. Nine years of hard work has gone into making this vital fleet upgrade happen, including creating a brand new factory and establishing modern maintenance facilities.

“I am, however, very sorry and disappointed that today’s first train from Bristol encountered technical issues, causing a delay to the service and an air conditioning issue which resulted in water entering the carriage rather than being discharged externally. This was not to a standard that Hitachi expects and is known for. We can and will do better. Our depot teams are as a matter of priority investigating the root causes.”

The first trains were able to run under electric power between London and Maidenhead, but the line as far as Didcot Parkway will be energised at the start of January, and electrification should reach Cardiff by the end of next year. Some key sections on the route beyond Didcot, such as the Severn Tunnel, have already been equipped with OHLE.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • transtraxman, Warrington

    I agree with Patrick Murrell.

    With regards to the article I would say that the presentation by Hitachi rail is a class one PR disaster.
    The complete fleet should be taken out of service so as not to damage the image that Hitachi wants to create. Just when you need the replacement series of InterCity Expresses for the new generation to succeed in winning over the public, it fails to do so.

    I would ask if there is any likelyhood that the need to make the trains bi-mode has contributed to the failure.

    Let us get the GWR electrified to Swansea, Bristol and Bath.

    [As we have reported more recently, GWR has now withdrawn its 800s for modifications.--Editor]

  • Patrick Murrell, Clevedon

    I suggest Jak Jaye learns about punctuation and grammar before he writes any more comments! He would score about 5 %at most in any school English exam!!

    Having said that, his rambling comments seem to lack any coherent purpose!

  • jak jaye, surrey

    How deluded is Grayling the most useless transport minister...ever! what passenger care about are (any) trains that you can depend on to get you from A-B on time sadly thats lets in the one fatal flaw to todays railways,NotWorkFail and their shamobolic repairs of the infrastructure(signal failures anyone?)
    and as for more seats reports already that standing room only is still a mjor issue,you can build 20 coach trains and they will still be overcrowding,the only answer is to reduce capacity not keep increasing it,just look at the M -Way network everytime a new one is added thousands of more cars and trucks appear.
    And as for the Class 800s im looking forward to the first Dawlish sea wall wave greeting them!

    [Our understanding is that the Class 802s which will run through Dawlish have been designed to cope with excessive water by moving critical components away from vulnerable areas of the roof.--Editor.]

  • Chris Jones-Bridger, Buckley

    And just when this troubled project could have done with a good news injection.

    Sadly the failures of the launch service have only highlighted where things have gone wrong. There is no doubt that bimodes will save the day in the short term for the DfT & Transport Secretary in boosting the GWR inter city offering but clearly at a cost of completing electrification as originally intended. For the core GW routes they should be seen for what they are a stop gap and funding should be confirmed for the missing wires.