Passengers kept informed in Hitachi cracks crisis – ORR

The Office of Rail and Road says passengers were kept well informed by operators affected by cracks discovered in Hitachi Class 800 series trains in May.

After the discovery of cracks in jacking points on some of the trains, all fleets were temporarily withdrawn for investigation. The ORR’s review focused on Great Western Railway, Hull Trains, London North Eastern Railway and TransPennine Express, and says that with minor exceptions, the operators performed well in keeping information up to date. It also says they reacted quickly to contact passengers who had booked assistance to provide them with information about the disruption and offer alternative travel support.

However, it adds that there are issues the industry should consider to reduce the impact on passengers in any future disruption. These include providing route maps for alternative travel and using website banner messaging to highlight disruption. It also found that train operators and third-party retailers could sometimes be clearer on the circumstances in which a fee for refunding a ticket is not payable.

Although ScotRail was initially in the scope of the review due to similar problems with its Class 385 EMUs, because the disruption caused was minimal (19 trains ran short-formed) it was later excluded.

The ORR’s safety review continues, with the regulator working with all parties to ensure lessons are learned from the issue.