A recovery plan to return 800-series and Class 385 trains into service has been agreed between Hitachi Rail, train operators, rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) and government.
The fleet of 800 series trains was removed from service as a precaution when cracks were found on some trains, disrupting train operators schedules and leading to service cancellations.
Following extensive safety checks on their trains, Transpennine Express, Hull Trains and ScotRail have been able to operate services across all of their routes since last weekend.
Since discovering the faults, Hitachi Rail engineers and independent experts have completed rigorous tests and research to gain a clearer understanding of the cracking issue. GWR and LNER will now begin reintroducing trains with a more regular service for passengers.
The service recovery plan includes thorough inspections by specialist teams before trains leave the depot. Over time, trains will be subject to a Forward Repair Plan, which will ensure the long-term continued safe running of the fleet.
Andrew Barr, Group CEO of Hitachi Rail, said: “Today’s agreement sets out our joint plan for the phased reintroduction of our trains into service, which will continue to deliver the highest possible safety standards.
“Safety remains our number one priority, and we and our partners have worked round the clock to agree an approach that allows the return of trains to service where they have been deemed safe.
“With our service recovery plan now underway, the operators will begin reintroduction of trains as they are individually approved and deemed safe. We would like to thank our partners for their ongoing support as we work collectively to reintroduce more trains into service.”
Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways at the ORR, added: “We’ve engaged with Hitachi and the train companies to oversee their development of a safe and suitable plan.
“We’re also continuing to provide the rigorous oversight needed to make sure the right checks are being carried out so that the trains are able to re-enter passenger service safely.”
Rail Minister Chris-Heaton Harris commented: “I welcome the news that operators, working closely with Hitachi and the independent safety regulator, the Office of Road and Rail, have confirmed that many trains can return to the network following rigorous safety tests.
“Trains should begin to return to service after further inspections have been carried out, helping to safely restore the reliable and punctual services on GWR and LNER that passengers deserve.
“Safety is our absolute focus, which is why Hitachi will carry out a comprehensive daily testing regime on affected trains.
“The next step on the route back to normal service levels will be for Hitachi to present their long-term repair plan for the fleet. We expect to see this shortly.
“Whilst this long-term fix can partly be incorporated into the regular service pattern for these trains, we do expect disruption to services for some time to come, but hope passengers understand this work is essential to ensure these issues do not occur again.”