Posted 23rd October 2017 | 2 Comments

Intercity Expresses return to service on GWR

THE new Hitachi Intercity Expresses withdrawn from public service last week after faults on the launch day are back on track and running well, said Great Western Railway.

The company withdrew four 5-car Class 800 sets, which are running in pairs, after Wednesday night. Upgrades to software were carried out overnight, and the units concerned then ran under test on Thursday before being restored to their planned diagrams in passenger service without publicity on Friday morning.

A spokesman for GWR said the software issue had affected the air conditioning and some other on-board services, including information screens.

Another failure, which concerned a pantograph air valve and therefore the ability of the launch train from Bristol to switch from diesel to electric operation when passing Maidenhead, is said to have been caused by a one-off issue, according to insiders.

GWR is not commenting on the details of the air valve problem, but did say that all subsequent changeovers of traction mode have worked properly.

At the moment only 5-car sets are in service, and GWR has yet to reveal when 9-car sets can join them.

Longer term plans for GWR involve the withdrawal of most HSTs although short four-car HST sets, codenamed ‘Castle’, are being refurbished by Wabtec in Doncaster and will be used on the corridor between Cardiff Central, Bristol Temple Meads, Plymouth and Penzance. The Mk3 trailers in these sets will be standard class only, and are being retrofitted with automatic doors and controlled emission toilets.

The far south west is also due to welcome its version of the Intercity Expresses, the bi mode Class 802s, by mid-2018. They have more powerful engines and larger fuel tanks to cope with the long stretches of non-electrified track west of Newbury.

Reader Comments:

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

  • Mark Wells, Steventon

    To prevent damage to the pantograph in the event that it does not lower, there will be a non-energised rail or wire under the bridge to 'force' it down in the event of malfunction

    There seems to be an assumption here that the residents of Steventon, which was briefly the site of the head office of the GWR, are behaving in some nimby like fashion. This is not the case at all, the Parish Council in the village has been trying to engage with NR for about four years to try and find a way to avoid destruction of the Grade II listed bridge. To no avail, in the view of NR there is no way other than their own, or perhaps we should say, that of their consultants.

    The Parish Council has identified experts on overhead railway electrification in Europe who may be able to find another way of solving the problem, but NR will not make the necessary data available for an opinion to be sought. It has been demonstrated to NR by a UK engineering firm that the bridge could be jacked up to solve the problem but they are not interested. In brief, they decided at the outset that the bridge should come down and they will listen to no other solution.

    Might I ask that in future you obtain all the data and facts before you opine on this subject.

    [Our understanding is that Steventon Bridge would need to close for about 10 months for reconstruction, not that it would need to 'come down' -- at least, not permanently.--Editor.]

  • SteveB, Royal Wootton Bassett

    Once the line is electrified through Swindon, there's the small matter of Steventon Bridge where there will be a gap in the overhead because of local objections to rebuilding the bridge. What if the air valve malfunctions at speed and the pantograph stays in the raised position - goodbye bridge?
    [Goodbye pantograph, perhaps -- but also see letter from Mr Wells.--Editor.]