LONDON, May 9 (Reuters) - The British government asked the
rail industry on Sunday to urgently announce how it was going to
deal with disruption to services after several operators were
forced to withdraw part of their fleets because of cracks
discovered on certain trains.
Checks carried out on Saturday on Class 800 Series trains
made by Japan's Hitachi identified cracks on part of
the chassis of some trains, prompting operators including GWR
and LNER to remove all their trains of that class.
"I have directed the rail industry to urgently set out a
comprehensive plan to ensure services can safely resume as soon
as possible," Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said in a
"I expect operators to explore all options for replacement
services to help people complete their journeys, and have asked
Hitachi for a safety inspection plan, as well as longer term
Hitachi apologised to passengers and operators, saying the
trains had been withdrawn as a precautionary measure.
"We are working as quickly and safely as possible to
investigate the issue across the remainder of the fleets," it
said in a statement posted on Twitter.
GWR, which operates services between London and various
destinations in western and southwestern England and in Wales,
said it had cancelled a significant number of its services.
It said it expected disruption to continue on Monday and
into the week ahead.
"The problem continues to be investigated by Hitachi and
once trains have been checked and cleared, we hope to be able to
release them back into service as soon as possible," said GWR,
which is owned by FirstGroup.
LNER, which operates services between London and cities in
eastern and northeastern England and in Scotland, gave similar
information on its website, urging passengers not to attempt to
travel on Sunday and promising to rebook or refund tickets.
The rail minister warned passengers that disruptions were
likely to continue "for some time", calling on operators to
organise replacement bus and coach services to help alleviate
(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon
Editing by Frances Kerry)