After the best part of a week, GWR services from London to the south west are still are not running, following safety concerns about new trains.
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The Hitachi engines were introduced with much fanfare in 2018, but after small cracks were found in them, they’re being checked to see what precautions need to be taken to protect passengers.
Major disruption is the result. GWR is advising people to put off their journeys to a later date, in the hope they’ll be able to sort things out. In the meantime. they’re operating some separate shuttles in place of the fast service. It means previous direct trips may now need several changes.
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, who sits on the transport committee in parliament, describes the situation as “a shambles.” Whilst safety is paramount, he says: “so is getting around the country when you want to see loved ones you haven’t seen for more than a year. There will be many people in the south west who will have made plans for next week so it needs to be sorted out as quickly as possible.”
The ‘Super Express’ trains were introduced to take advantage of electrification of the Great Western railwayline, but that’s not coming to the south west any time soon. They were late going into service after being announced. According to Private Eye, the 866 carriages being used nationally are costing £7.7 billion in ‘train usage prices’ over nearly 30 years.