Rail chaos as Arriva Trains Wales cancels services for urgent safety checks on damaged wheels
The train operator has warned passengers only to travel 'when absolutely necessary'.
Trains through Shropshire were severely disrupted today due to urgent safety checks on Arriva trains after significant damage to wheels.
As a result, only one train ran between Shrewsbury and Cardiff this morning. Other lines, including Shrewsbury to Crewe and Manchester and Shrewsbury to Chester operated a limited service with major delays - while there were minor delays on the lines to Birmingham and Aberystwyth.
The Manchester to Cardiff line, which runs through Shrewsbury, had just one train run on the line - the 8.10 from the county town to Cardiff.
Arriva Trains Wales said its fleet of 27 class 175 long-distance trains were being examined.
Overnight checks by Arriva engineers discovered significant damage to the wheels of its class 175 trains, believed to have been caused by section of track or points across the Welsh routes and into Manchester.
Arriva Trains Wales encouraged passengers to travel 'only when absolutely necessary'.
Delays and disruption are expected to continue into the coming days, with passengers at every train station in Shropshire affected.
A letter from Welsh Assembly Transport Minister Ken Skates said: “Due to serious safety issues the fleet of 27 class 175 trains were temporarily withdrawn from service.
“Overnight checks by Arriva engineers have discovered significant damage to the wheels of the fleet. The wheel damage has therefore necessitated the withdrawal of the fleet until the the cause is known.
“It is believed that a fault with a section of rail track or points has caused the damage to the trains.”
Bill Kelly, Network Rail's chief operating officer, and Arriva Trains Wales customer services director Bethan Jeffs said: "Network Rail and Arriva Trains Wales are carrying out essential safety checks on rail infrastructure and trains after inspections of the fleet revealed some damage to particular trains late last night.
"The majority of long-distance Arriva Trains Wales services operating in North Wales, West Wales and Marches are currently suspended as a result.
"The safety of our customers and our people is a key priority, therefore our frontline staff are currently working hard in very difficult weather conditions to ensure thorough checks are undertaken across fleet and infrastructure.
"Some of our services will be operating with fewer carriages and additionally, given the worsening weather predicted over the next few days, we are advising customers to travel only if absolutely necessary and to ensure they check www.arrivatrains.wales/check to see if their journey will be affected.
"We are working together to put in place alternative transport for our customers where possible, however, this will be very limited due to weather conditions and the number of services affected.
"We would like to apologise to anyone affected, we thank customers for their patience whilst we work to resolve this issue and remind them to check before they travel."
A statement on the National Rail website said: " There is no firm estimate yet of how long disruption will last but it is likely to continue until the end of the day.
"A limited train service is available between Shrewsbury and Crewe."
Tickets are being accepted by the following operators:
- West Midlands Railway between Hereford and Birmingham New Street
- CrossCountry via any reasonable route, inducing between Birmingham New Street and Manchester
- Northern on reasonable routes
- Virgin Trains on reasonable routes
Meanwhile there were long delays for drivers heading towards Shrewsbury on the A5 from Telford after a three-car crash shortly after the end of the M54.