It was clearly a difficult day for the rail industry yesterday. As SENRUG understands it, every single Hitachi Class 800 train had to be withdrawn from service for urgent safety checks. In our area, that’s LNER’s Azuma Fleet (their entire operational fleet) and TPE’s Nova 1 Trains. But GWR running from London to the West Country and South Wales were also affected. We can not and do not criticise the rail industry for prioritising safety. They have no choice in the matter. Any other action would be too horrendous to contemplate. TPE helpfully kept myself and other stakeholders updated on progress during the day, including details of mutual ticket acceptance (apparently LNER were able to run some services), replacement busses between York and Newcastle, and the gradual introduction of their fleet after checks had been completed. LNER simply swung into “do not travel” mode – again. They have sadly become very good at this over the last few months, but their announcements don’t recognise there are people stuck mid journey, people trying to get home, and people travelling for jobs, interviews and conference speeches. Not all travel is spur of the moment leisure that can be cancelled or postponed at the last minute. Also, I can’t help wondering how the “reserved seat only” policy worked out. SENRUG has long argued that this short-sighted policy from LNER won’t work in cases where an entire train is cancelled, let alone for major disruption like this.
The actual suspected fault on the trains were with the “yaw dampers”. I have no idea what these are. By strange co-incidence, our local operator Northern, whose trains are from a completely different manufacturer, are also in process of a planned recall of their fleet to check these, which is causing them problems with stock availability as they plan for the May timetable boost.