Update sounds like better news on Northern’s metal fatigue problem

Update 10 June – Northern and CAF engineers have now carried out temporary modifications to yaw dampers on their new trains, and a permanent solution will follow. Immediate good news is that most of the trains are now quickly and safely coming back into service. Northern’s recent (10 June) press statement is here, but if you want to know what the heck is a yaw damper, read on below!

Metal fatigue hits new trains (from our recent newsletter). At the end of May we understand about 30 of Northern’s CAF-built new trains were out of service including some of the “195s” used on our line. The problem is cracks on the brackets attaching a gadget called a yaw damper to the train body. A yaw damper is designed to stop the bogie wobbling from side to side as it rolls along. This transmits an oscillating force to the mounting and body, leading to metal fatigue, and ultimately cracking Lightweight aluminium used in construction is more prone to metal fatigue than steel. Yaw damper problems have also hit Hitachi high speed trains run by LNER, GWR and TransPennine Express, though it was cracks in jacking points that took those trains out of service recently. The issue is not new. British Rail had to redesign damper mountings on our familiar Class 158 units 30 years ago. It’s about designing components to reduce concentration of stress – avoiding sharp corners etc. Have modern train designers not learnt lessons?

Repairs will take time. It’s fortunate that with fewer passengers, for now, Northern can manage with shorter trains. As we write this most Calder Valley trains seem to be correct.

UPDATE: More at Train operator Northern issues update on Class 195 and 331 fault (railadvent.co.uk)

HADRAG update June 2021 Zoom AGM coming up

Thanks to everyone who attended our on-line meeting back in January. We agreed to continue to for press for action on electrification and improving the Calder Valley line and its links, making that a priority ahead of long-term ambitions such as high-speed rail.

And we have been busy since then responding to consultations on Halifax stations plans, Manchester timetable options, and West Yorkshire’s connectivity plans and rail vision – see our post HADRAG responds on Halifax station, Manchester timetables, and West Yorkshire connectivity strategy – Halifax and District Rail Action Group below where you will find links to the consultations and our comments.

We are holding an on-line annual general meeting on Saturday 26th June at 10.30am. Members will have received full details including Zoom link by emailed newsletter. Like everyone else we hope to get back to normal later this year, but for now it’s clear caution is still required. If you are not a HADRAG member but would like to attend then please get in touch!