High-speed trains withdrawn from service after cracks appeared had been affected by fatigue and stress corrosion, according to a new report.
The trains were built as part of the Government’s £7.5 billion Intercity Express Programme (IEP), awarded to Agility Trains, headed by Hitachi, back in 2009.
The contract had largely been expected to come to Britain’s only remaining train-maker Bombardier, based in Derby.
Problems with the the Hitachi Class 800 trains and 385 series trains were found on trains used by Great Western Railway (GWR) and London North Eastern Railway (LNER) in May.
Losing the Intercity Express Programme began a period of uncertainty for the Derby firm and its workers after the company was invited to bid for the £1.4 billion Thameslink contract and also failed to get that in 2011 as it went to German company Siemens.
This led to job losses at the Derby firm and a campaign called Change Track being launched by the Derby Telegraph which resulted in 10,000 people marching to a rally in Derby, a 50,000 name petition and hundreds of Bombardier workers descending on the Houses of Parliament.
After two years of uncertainty and Prime Minister David Cameron twice visiting the city, the company decided to stay in Derby and job losses on a major scale were averted.
The cause of the cracking in the Hitachi trains will not be revealed until December, according to the report produced by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).
The 800 class trains finally came into service on the Great Western Main Line in October 2017.
The ORR report said the cracks found in the trains’ lifting plate were the result of stress corrosion, and yaw dumper cracks were a result of fatigue.
It added the industry moved quickly to withdraw the trains once the problem was identified, and trains were able to return to service and have performed as expected with no unsafe conditions or harm arising from cracking.
ORR chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser said: “I welcome the good collaboration that has taken place since this issue arose. We are continuing to work with all parties to determine the root cause and will publish our final report in December.”
The trains were assembled at the Hitachi factory in Newton Aycliffe County Durham.
In an interesting twist in 2018, Bombardier and Hitachi missed out on a £1.5 billion contract to design and build new trains for the London Underground.
The joint venture between the Litchurch Lane firm and Japanese manufacturer had been in the running to build the 94 trains destined for the Piccadilly Line.
But Transport for London (TfL) announced that it would be awarding the contract, part of its Deep Tube Upgrade Programme, to Siemens.
French company Alstom bought out Bombardier Transportation division earlier this year.