GWR train disruption on South West services continues after cracks found

A Great Western Railway service.

Services on Great Western Railway are being disrupted for a third day due to cracks on trains.

GWR warned passengers with tickets for long-distance journeys on Monday (May 10) “not to travel” as there is “no service or an extremely limited service” between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads, Penzance and Cheltenham Spa.

The operator’s Hitachi Class 800 trains were withdrawn from service on May 8 for safety checks after hairline cracks were discovered in some of the trains.

One of the Hitachi Class 800 trains.

In an update to passengers on its website, GWR said: “Due to more trains than usual needing repairs at the same time at London Paddington, fewer trains are able to run on all lines. Disruption is expected until the end of the day.”

Lines affected:

London Paddington - Swindon - Bath Spa - Bristol Temple Meads.

London Paddington - Swindon - Bristol Parkway - Newport - Cardiff Central - Swansea.

London Paddington - Reading - Taunton - Exeter St Davids - Plymouth - Penzance.

London Paddington - Reading - Swindon - Gloucester - Cheltenham Spa.

Robert Nisbet, who is Director of Nations and Regions at industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said if inspected trains are found to have "tiny cracks" then replacement trains may be deployed while repairs are carried out.

Services have been reduced between London and the South West while safety checks are carried out.

Asked if he knows how long the disruption is likely to last, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "No, I can't put an exact time on it and that is purely because we are going through the process and taking it extremely seriously."

Mr Nisbet described the disruption as "disappointing" because more passengers are returning to using the train network following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

In response to a question on how long trains have been running with cracks, he said: "These trains are relatively new in service, so this is something that the Hitachi engineers will be looking at and reporting back to the train operating companies."

Hitachi has apologised to passengers and train companies, adding some trains have returned to service after being checked.

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