The Office of Rail and Road will not authorise any more Intercity Express Programme Class 800/801 trains for LNER until newly identified safety issues have been addressed, potentially jeopardising the planned introduction of the fleet into traffic this December.
LNER has 65 Class 800/801 trains on order, with eight having been used for testing so far on the East Coast Main Line.
The trains are due to enter service on December 4, running initially between London King’s Cross, Leeds and Hull, with a rollout planned through to mid-2020.
ORR spokesman Simon Belgard told RAIL: “We can confirm that we have paused the granting of further authorisations to place Hitachi IEPs in service. The reason for this is the inter-car connectors and the possibility they could be used as a ladder to climb on the vehicle roof.
“Hitachi has made some modifications on trains before they entered service with GWR . We are writing to the company to ask for further controls to be put in place.”
A RAIL source explained that the GWR fleet will need the modifications, and that discussions have taken place regarding what is needed, but that the trains can continue running because the ORR is trying to mitigate the risk.
A Hitachi spokesman told RAIL: “Plans to introduce the new Azuma fleet are progressing. We continue to work closely with LNER, Network Rail and ORR to deliver the new trains that will benefit passengers travelling on the East Coast.”
An LNER spokesman said: “Our plans to introduce the new Azuma fleet are progressing, including the rollout of driver training across England and Scotland. We continue to work closely with Network Rail and Hitachi to deliver the trains as soon as possible.”
- For the FULL story, read RAIL 863, on sale now.