Did saltwater wreck trains? Cracks under carriages that sparked travel chaos could have been caused by seawater spraying onto them, report suggests
- Cracks found under trains may have been caused by seawater, report suggests
- An investigation said aluminium under trains may have been damaged by salt
- It caused travel chaos as 182 Hitachi Class 800 series trains were out of action
- Great Western Railway trains, which travel through Devon, were most affected
Cracks found under trains which sparked weeks of travel chaos could have been caused by salty seawater spraying onto the carriages, a report suggested.
An investigation said a type of aluminium used under some of the trains may have been vulnerable to being damaged by ‘salt-containing’ substances.
Travel chaos lasting weeks was sparked in May when 182 Hitachi Class 800 series trains were taken out of service as a safety precaution.
The trains most affected by cracks were operated by Great Western Railway which runs some routes next to the sea in Devon and Cornwall and have famously been pictured being hit with spray from waves during choppy winter weather.
Investigation said aluminium under some trains may have been damaged by ‘salt-containing’ substances. 182 Hitachi Class 800 series trains (pictured) were taken out of service in May
Investigators at the Office of Rail and Road said: ‘The specific corrosive environment for the alloy is considered to be endemic in the UK, arising from high humidity, rain and seawater exposure.’
It stressed the document was only an interim report and the ‘root cause’ won’t be decided until December.
Around 10 per cent of the Hitachi trains remain out of service while the ORR’s investigation continues.
In its report yesterday it said cracks are likely to have emerged due to carriages being ‘exposed to a specific corrosive substance while subject to stress.’
It said: ‘The susceptible material in this case is the 7000 series aluminium alloy that has been used in specific parts.’
It added: ‘The corrosive environment for the material is one containing chlorides, which is commonly encountered in the UK – particularly in coastal areas and during cold weather when salt-containing products are used to manage snow and ice.’
It went on: ‘The specific corrosive environment for the alloy is considered to be endemic in the UK, arising from high humidity, rain and seawater exposure.’
It said the aluminium alloy which some cracks were found in may have had ‘greater susceptibility’ to being damaged by salty substances.
The trains most affected by cracks were operated by Great Western Railway (train pictured) which runs some routes next to the sea in Devon and Cornwall
The ORR stressed the document was only an interim report and that the ‘root cause’ of the cracks won’t formally be decided until a final report is published in December.
Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways at ORR, said: ‘Our interim findings confirm the cracking in the yaw damper and lifting plate are a result of fatigue and stress corrosion cracking – and that Hitachi made the sensible decision to withdraw all trains.
‘Since then, the majority of trains have been put back into service with no unsafe conditions and no harm arising from the cracking.
‘I welcome the good collaboration that has taken place since this issue arose. We are continuing to work with all parties to determine the root cause.’
The Department for Transport said: ‘It remains vital that the root cause of this issue is established and that the industry delivers a comprehensive long-term repair strategy to ensure there is no further passenger disruption.
‘The government also continues to work to protect the interests of taxpayers and expects Hitachi to bear any costs incurred.’
A Hitachi spokesman said: ‘The ORR’s interim report highlights how the industry took timely and appropriate decisions to maintain the highest levels of safety.
‘This collaborative approach also helped to get trains back into service so passenger disruption was kept to a minimum.’
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