Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Alun Cairns' bimodal trains prove not to be so great an advance

On Sunday afternoon, GWR issued this message:

On Monday, 16 October, our brand new ten car long distance services will operate in passenger service for the first time. This is the first new train to be introduced in Wales for a generation, and is a very significant day for our customers and partners in South Wales. 
The first Intercity Express for South Wales, the 0815 from London to Cardiff, and the 1055 from Cardiff to London will  be brand new ten carriage trains. 

The 1145 from Paddington will be the first train to travel right through to Swansea.  As well as the platform showcase at Swansea, where we have also invited local media, a helicopter will film the journey of the 1145, creating a film that we will make available online so that everyone can see this fantastic new train makes it way through the beauty of South Wales. Cardiff 13.47 .Returns from Swansea at 15.28.

Earlier services were not trouble-free. The first - 8:15 - service to Wales was cancelled. The first service from Bristol was severely delayed. The Bristol Post reported:

The maiden voyage of one of Great Western Railway’s new high speed trains was delayed leaving Bristol due to an unexpected fault. Commuters on board the brand new Hitachi train, which was due to depart Temple Meads station for London Paddington at 6am, were delayed by 26 minutes as staff reportedly struggled to couple carriages. A separate problem was also reported with the air conditioning, which caused liquid to leak from vents above seats.

Tim Farron put the boot in:

“Chris Grayling promised this would be a fantastic new service, instead it ended up going badly off the rails.
“At least he got a first-hand experience of what many rail passengers have to put up with every day: overcrowded, delayed and unreliable trains.
“This whole sorry episode sums up the government’s failing transport strategy.
“Ministers need to step up investment in the railway network across the UK, instead of posing for photo ops that go embarrassingly wrong.”

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