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Intercity Express trains taken out of service days after launch

The first two trains of GWR’s new Class 800 Intercity Express fleet have been removed from service following further technical difficulties.

After the less than successful launch of the new stock on Monday, the operator has now taken the precaution of testing the new stock again, although the trains are expected to be back on track imminently.

On Monday, the first journey for the service – attended by transport secretary Chris Grayling – suffered engine problems, overcrowding and a leaking air-conditioning unit.

The £5.7bn investment in new trains was meant to be a major step forward in London-Bristol rail links. New rolling stock was expected to improve speed and capacity on the services but technical issues have marred the launch so far.

The two trains are expected to be back in service sooner rather than later, as GWR confirmed that engineers worked last night to carry out the necessary repairs to the stock.  

A spokesperson for GWR told RTM: “The IETs are expected to be running on the network today, testing a number of improvements made overnight to improve the customer experience for passengers.

“We hope to have them back in passenger service as soon as possible. In the meantime, HSTs will operate instead of IET trains.”

A spokesperson for Hitachi explained: “The trains are expected to be running again as soon as possible, after we’ve fully tested some improvements made overnight to the passenger experience.”

The manufacturer constructed the Class 800s at its factory in Newton Aycliffe, where they are currently working on ScotRails new electrical Class 385 model.

Top image: Paul Bigland 

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Huguenot   19/10/2017 at 16:23

"To improve the customer experience for passengers" -- well that's a euphemism, if ever there was one. What GWR really means is no air conditioning leaks, no failure to engage electric mode and running on time. However Monday's train was allowed to run after such inadequate testing I can't imagine. It's a disgrace to the industry. Will anyone's head roll? In the meantime, there will be no time saving on London-Bristol and London-Cardiff runs because in diesel mode the IEP cannot keep up with HST 125s; only when these two routes are electrified throughout will HST times be bettered.

Andrew Cawood   19/10/2017 at 17:40

Ashame the long awaited launch did not go well.It reminded me of the Advanced passenger train that the media unfairly slated and added to its demise.Just bad luck GWR stick with it.

Mitchell Hurd   19/10/2017 at 21:10

On the 16/10/17, I wasted £5 on a return bus ticket. That's because the 12:16 from Didcot to Reading (booked for a new train I'm told) was cancelled. I was kind of expecting this. So rather than pay £4.25 for an Off-Peak Day Return with my Disabled Persons Railcard, I came back home to Abingdon on the 12:12 X2. If the next time I use GWR I receive a 3rd bad service, then I'll be very tempted to involve the Department for Transport!

Adamc   19/10/2017 at 22:37

Shouldn’t really be bad luck with a half billion pound, supposedly 5000 mile tested fleet of stock though! Fingers crossed for improvement. I suspect this is further proof, if it were needed, that bi-mode stock is just far more technically challenging and far less appropriate than electric stock running on proper electrified rails

Michael King   19/10/2017 at 22:43

Yes the ATP came to my mind, though I think that was tested even less and journalists and others felt queasy as a result. I have seen Hitachi’s under test -and some time ago. More striking is the claim above that there will be no time saving. Can the new really not equal or outrun the HST? Look forward to confirmation of that either way. Is electrification not going to happen beyond Didcot to Bath. If so that would surely achieve time improvements. Else we’re left with extra capacity , a cleaner Paddington, and a question over bi-modes? Are some of the East coast new stock not Hitachi and working well. Questions rather than opinions and facts, I’m afraid.

Andrew Gwilt   19/10/2017 at 22:54

Bet Hitachi was left red-faced. Not good.

Richard   19/10/2017 at 23:46

Please tell us what the problem is. "technical difficulties" won't do.

Chris Gordon   20/10/2017 at 00:08

We as a nation are years behind the rest of Europe as regards electric trains running on all main lines, Government minister Grayling pulls the plug on the Midland Main Line electrification scheme, has halted electric services through to Bristol and South Wales all because it's too expensive and yet millions have been spent already on overhead equipment and they are using the new trains in bi-mode beyond Reading ie diesel power when they are not as powerful as the 40 year old trains they are replacing, they should just get on with finishing the electrification and to hell with the expense, we spend billions of pounds in foreign aid each year to so called third world countries why not use that instead! they are going to have to complete these schemes eventually so stop pussy footing about and get on with it

Alastair   20/10/2017 at 08:53

Re commnets by Andrew Cawood and Michael King on the APT. What happened that day was, some of the journalists on the inaugural journey had been well catered for the night before in Glasgow Central Hotel. A number of them were now feeling, how shall we put it, a little worse for wear. Unsurprisingly the movement of the train somewhat exacerbated their early hours drinking session and the journey was a step too much for them. In their wisdom they filed reports that were certainly not accurate as to the queasiness of the train. Those who were fresher in their demeanour that morning, including my father, found the journey most relaxing and enjoyable. All the journalist did was kill of a project that the Italians went on to develop into the world beating tilting trains they now produce. A lost opportunity for UK manufacturing.

Mr Manbarr   20/10/2017 at 09:13

Rumours are abound that there were serious safety concerns about the external doors "opening" where they should not have and internal vestibule doors NOT opening when they should have. Ooohhh yeah, then there was the minor issue of the trains fire extinguishers being faulty...... I think these could be classed as 'technical issue's.

Tothehills   20/10/2017 at 09:15

Chris Gordon: Just to make your blood boil; having botched the GWML electrification Parliament are just about to attempt the refurbishment of Parliament. It is projected to cost 4 billion but before they have even started the costs a spiraling away with a final cost projected to be in excess of £8 billion and being years late (they can't even decide to vacate the place while the work is done). One has to wonder were the rail electrification projects cancelled just offset the costs of the Parliament over spend.

Alastair   20/10/2017 at 09:59

Come to Scotland if you really want to weep. New 385s. Are we having a laugh with these trains? Under 50 miles from Glasgow to Edinburgh and it still takes more than 40 minutes. London to Ashford, an 80 mile routing, takes 36 minutes with a class 395. In Scotland we are still stuck with what are in effect fast suburban trains that can only do 100mph between our key cities. Typical. No vision for what could be.

PP   20/10/2017 at 10:19

I think it's a comparable speed to most similar runs over a similar distance, like London to Brighton. I don't think you could realistically get faster unless some services ran non-stop. Biggest flaw in EGIP was cutting services back from the proposed 6 per hour.

Gman   20/10/2017 at 12:10

well well well you will buy Japanese rubbish, you should have gone with the successful Pendolinos made by Alstom

SPT   20/10/2017 at 12:38

Alastair - I sympathise with your tale of woe. On the GEML, Manningtree is c 60 miles from London (according to local road signage) and takes by train.... 60 minutes at its fastest... to do the trip - so a rather speedy average of 60 mph for an "Inter City" service. Still, lucky us have got new trains coming (which Gwilt has written endlessly about) yet the journey times will... remain the same super fast 60 mph average... still taking an hour (or sometimes more) to get to and from London Happy days

Gazza   20/10/2017 at 12:40

Looks like Hornby’s one will be running before the real one.. Hahahaha

Border Fox   20/10/2017 at 12:49

Gman, they are Japanese design but contain many British components. A few technical issues hardly makes them rubbish. Get a Life!

Steveb   20/10/2017 at 13:30

There's a gap in the overhead lines at Steventon, west of Didcot because NR aren't allowed to rebuild the historic bridge. I'm told that the trains are expected to 'coast' through - but this will require 100% reliability with lowering and raising the pantographs. However, I suppose a few bridge-bashes from stray pantographs will settle the issue once and for all.

PP   20/10/2017 at 14:30

These things are surely better than Pendolinos to travel on. Technically successful they may be, but Pendolinos are cramped, uncomfortable and generally very unpleasant to be in for any length of time.

Mark Hare   20/10/2017 at 14:59

Alastair - are you really trying to compare a busy existing route such as Glasgow - Edinburgh with 140mph Javelin trains running on a purpose-built High Speed route? What is the maximum line speed between the two cities? f it's no more than 100mph then it would seem rather pointless building trains that could go any faster. It seems you would like a brand new High Speed line built from Glasgow to Edinburgh just for you - good luck with that.

Alastair   20/10/2017 at 16:06

Mark, you are right. No chance. Basically they have just electrified a line. Still five stops between two major cities. It should have been a new line with a nonstop service. Those economists around these pages know that if you link two cities with high speed rail links, their combined economic growth is greater by several % than if they had not been connected. Our problem north of the border is we have a government fixated on one thing at the detriment to transport, education, NHS Scotland. Happy to spend our taxpayers money on vanity projects and policies. No vision.

Henry Law   20/10/2017 at 19:40

Give them a break. It took a couple of years to resolve problems with stock in the 1960s. The CEP units had to be fitted with new bogies. The Duke of Gloucester's teething troubles were not cured until after it was rescued from Barry scrapyard.

AJG89   20/10/2017 at 21:36

Sad really that 2 of the Class 800's were out of service after launch. Was hoping that it would of turned out brilliantly. But somehow some issues has caused the trains to become out of use and were headed back to its depot few miles away from Paddington.

Pwt   20/10/2017 at 22:33

Does anybody know why the industry seems to be struggling to know what to call these trains? Commonly called "IEPs" which is daft as since when is train a "programme". Sometimes "IETs" which is better but not very imaginative. When on board one the other day the TM welcomed us to the new "Class 800", a meaningless term to the average passenger. What's wrong with Intercity Express Train or do Deutsche Bahn have copywright on this term?

Andrew JG   21/10/2017 at 01:59

Bet that’s life Hitachi flabbergasted and embarrassed by what had happened to the Class 800 units.

Andrew JG   21/10/2017 at 02:00


Paul Coenraats   21/10/2017 at 14:50

Perhaps in reverse of Heritage trains where a Diesel is on the back in case of failure we should stick a Steam Engine on the rear in case of .............:-)))) Get the HST's back from Scotland and refurb with sensible seats so we can all again enjoy the panoramic views out of the windows, Those aircraft type seats are horrible.

Henry Law   21/10/2017 at 22:44

I have never been a fan of the concept that has produced these trains but Hitachi and the engineers deserve to be given a chance. It took the best part of a decade to sort out problems with mark 1 stock, what with the bogie troubles and corrosion from the inside out, which is still a headache for the museum railways which operate them. Then there was the saga of the Rock and Roll trains. If they are still not right in the autumn of 2019, then we ought to be worried.

Mark Hare   23/10/2017 at 10:49

Henry Law - Mark 1s and the 'museum railways which operate them'? There are plenty of Mark 1s still out on the main line on charter trains several times a week. They are perfectly serviceable if maintained properly. And Andrew JG / Gwilt / whoever - just repeating the same inane comments under different pseudonyms doesn't make those comments any more true, interesting or relevant.

Andrew Gwilt   23/10/2017 at 12:17

@Mark Hare. I can comment as much as I like. Thank you very much. IDIOT.

CJR   23/10/2017 at 22:43

@Andrew Gwilt. Well done yet again for insulting yet another honest contributor for saying the truth. You are a very strange person who lives under a mis-aprehension that only your comments are valid and correct, yet in reality they are the most inane, irrelevant and boring and ignored by all wanting reliability and accuracy. Bets are now on for what adjective I shall inherit??

Victor M.   24/10/2017 at 02:50

The Class 800 is perfectly capable of running as fast as the HST but it is controlled through the TMS computer which normally downrates the engines. It can't outpace the HST as 125 is the maximum line speed.

Andrew Gwilt   08/11/2017 at 04:03

@CJR. At least I don’t care. Or should I say-a person who admires that I’m the troll who speculates on anything I come up with some fake information. I appreciate it. Zzzz

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