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Launch of new GWR Intercity Express trains marred by major issues

A delayed service, leaky air conditioning and cramped carriages marred the launch of GWR’s Intercity Express as transport secretary Chris Grayling was due to make his first trip on the service.

A broken air conditioning unit dripped on passengers, while technical difficulties left the train running 25 minutes late into the capital.

The train was due to leave Bristol for London with Grayling, transport and business bosses and commuters at 6am, but did not leave Temple Meads until 6.25am.

A GWR spokesperson apologised for the delay, telling RTM: “Unfortunately, the train was delayed this morning due to a minor technical matter that was quickly resolved at the depot.

“These trains have been running successfully on UK tracks for over two years and recently passed the industry standard 5,000 miles running without a fault. Hitachi will be investigating this matter thoroughly.”

Hitachi manufactured the new stock at their factory in Newton Aycliffe, and bosses were expecting increases in the speed of the service due to a 24% increase in capacity.

Today’s launch began the replacement of the ageing Intercity 125 fleet, first introduced in 1976, with the modern Class 800 units.

“I am very sorry and disappointed that today’s first passenger train from Bristol encountered technical issues, causing a delay to the service and an air conditioning issue which resulted in water entering the carriage rather than being discharged externally,” said Karen Boswell, managing director, Hitachi Rail Europe.

“This was not to a standard that Hitachi expects and is known for,” she added. “We can and will do better. Our depot teams are, as a matter of priority investigating the root causes of today’s technical issues, and we will ensure that these are corrected as quickly as possible.

“On a more positive note, the first train from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads and the first train to Swansea both ran smoothly today. I am confident that more passenger benefits will follow as the full fleet of 57 trains comes into service.”

The disrupted service comes as about 122 of the new trains are set to replace the Intercity 125 fleet on GWR by 2020.

Plans include offering more than 4,000 extra seats into London Paddington during peak hours from next year, and 12,000 more seats into London King's Cross by the end of 2020.

Top image: DfT

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Andrew Gwilt   16/10/2017 at 19:34

Despite the leak and technical problems that happened to one of the GWR Class 800 fleet. These new Class 800’s IET’s will soon be operated on other routes across the GWR network. Aswell Class 802’s which are currently being manufactured in Hitachi Italy and in Japan manufacturing plants will operate on the Cornish routes once these new trains have been delivered to the UK. The VTEC Azuma Class 800’s and Class 801’s IET’s will start operating services on the ECML from next year with Hull Trains and TPE Class 802’s to be built that are likely to enter service from mid 2019.

Andrew JG   16/10/2017 at 19:48

I do like what Hitachi have built. More Class 800’s, Class 801’s and Class 802’s that are being built will soon be operating on the Great Western Main Line and other GW routes and East Coast Main Line routes. Plus Hull Trains Class 802’s which are to be built will soon operate on Hull Trains we service between London KX and Hull to replace the Class 180’s. And Transpennine Express Class 802’s which are also to be built that will soon be operated on some routes that parts of the South and North Transpennine areas need extra trains. As the North of England are already getting new and old current trains coming in including the Class 319’s cascaded from Thameslink that are now with Northern and some will be converted to Class 769 Bi-Mode units for Northern and Arriva Trains Wales. I’m a big fan of brand new trains in the 21st Century. And I do hope that Hitachi will continue to manufacture more wonderful new trains for the UK as they promised to create more new jobs and to invest more new rolling stocks for years and decades to come.

Lutz   16/10/2017 at 20:21

"Unfortunately, the train was delayed this morning due to a minor technical matter that was quickly resolved at the depot.": Did the driver forget his/her Lucky Rabbit's Foot?

AJG89   17/10/2017 at 02:40

So what caused the leakage of water to come down from the roof of the new train that is operating its first day of service at Paddington. Must be a hole somewhere that caused the leak. Or was it coming from the air conditioning vents.

Tryreading   17/10/2017 at 07:10

Are you kidding. It’s literally in the second paragraph.

Leicester Dave   17/10/2017 at 08:06

Nothing changes the Japanese are just as bad as anyone else. What a joke.

Tothehills   17/10/2017 at 09:29

Well I hope the transport minister got wet and that as there was no home grown food on the train he went hungry as well. The clown seems to be as useful as a fart in a biscuit barrel.

Jimbo   17/10/2017 at 09:32

You would think they could have got this one trip done perfectly !?! Technical difficulties can happen at any time, but timekeeping should not have been an issue with this trip. The comment I find most interesting, which isn't expanded on, is "cramped carriages" because that is the one they can't fix. It will be interesting to see how these new trains compare to the IC125's.

J, Leicester   17/10/2017 at 10:24

Jimbo - according to Scott Ellis' tweet, "Punters impressed overall" - well, that's us told! The sardines have spoken! It seems that nowadays you can put wheels on a pringles tube and call it comfortable modern rolling stock. I look forward to Grayling's first ride on a bi-mode being marred by a leaky diesel engine causing a fume-induced fever dream in which passenger satisfaction skyrockets.

Jak Jaye   17/10/2017 at 11:14

More PR handout speak cant wait for the first 800 to meet its first Dawlish sea wall!

100Andthirty   17/10/2017 at 11:37

For a railway trade magazine it is unforgivable to quote "major issues" in the headline. The train was late and the condensate from the air conditioner on one car discharged into the saloon. You could be more supportive of the industry and reserve the term for real major issues - eg something that needed the train to be terminated before its destination.

Pdeaves   17/10/2017 at 11:41

'Cramped carriages'? People who have actually travelled in them extol the virtues of increased leg room and more table seats. They can't all be wrong, surely? Or is this a quote from a pre-prepared journo's story written purely to complain without seeing the product? Surely not...

IC2000   17/10/2017 at 11:46

Less well published is the fact that the already delayed service came to a stand at Taplow following the failure of the train to change from diesel to electric traction. This caused significant delays to following trains. The next outbound working for the IET set was cancelled. These trains have been running around for some months now so the use of the term "teeth problems" for the cause of the delays is a little patronising...

Chris   17/10/2017 at 12:10

I was on both sets yesterday. Any suggestion of these trains being 'cramped' is nonsense, the legroom is greater than that on the current GWR HST fleet, which itself is very good. The overhead luggage racks are also of generous proportions and appeared to offered greater 'height' and 'depth' than those in a GWR Mk3. The seats are firm, but in my opinion comfortable. On diesel power the (powered) vehicle I was in was very muted, even under rapid acceleration. Overall an impressive package.

David Walker   18/10/2017 at 09:00

I seem to recall a similarly inauspicious start to the now famous public launch of APT services on the WCML around 1980. Look where that got us!

Mark Hare   18/10/2017 at 13:49

Andrew JG - you say 'I do like what Hitachi have built'... so I assume you have ridden on the new units to experience them for yourself. What did you think of them?

John Gilbert   18/10/2017 at 17:03

So "Cramped Seating" is mentioned at last. The original HSTs were splendidly roomy until GWR ripped out those seats and squeezed in more and more seats to make sardine cans of that originally excellent stock. And now more of the same? This is nothing to do with Hitachi but everything to do with British Civil Servants and Politicians. Rather than making the sets an extra carriage or two longer, they are still happy to squash the paying public in to sardine cans, even though this time they are new sardine cans!. How utterly cynical and contemptible are the Westminster and Whitehall gang.

Andrew JG   19/10/2017 at 01:15

Thanks @Mark Hare. Ffs.

J, Leicester   19/10/2017 at 10:29

Pdeaves, to be fair, those passengers have had to endure FGW's callous attempts to cram as many seats as possible into previously comfortable Mk. 3s, turning a well-designed carriage into a glorified grounded version of Ryanair. You could put leather seats in a Pacer and passengers would consider it an improvement on that butchering of a classic in pursuit of revenue. With that in mind, what should be considered a reversion to form should not be credited as a "step up in quality" when that level was artificially lowered by the same company previously - and no, it's still not as comfortable or spacious as the original IC70 Mk 3. design the GW route used to enjoy, armrests or not.

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