Heathrow Express, the operator of direct services between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport, has withdrawn its entire fleet of class 332 trains for emergency technical checks.
A total of 14 four and five car class 332 EMUs were withdrawn from services after a structural defect was found on the underside of several train carriages.
After discovering a fault during a routine maintenance check, Siemens recalled its fleet of class 332 trains as a safety precaution. In order to provide assurance, each train is thoroughly inspected by Siemens engineers at the Old Oak Common depot.
The fleet will also be undergoing further examination and maintenance work. If necessary, repair work will be carried out with the fleet out of service ‘for the foreseeable future’.
Heathrow Express noted the trains manufacturers, Siemens and CAF, sent specialist engineers from Germany and Spain to assist with the investigation.
In order to maintain operations, Heathrow Express is using a fleet of five class 360 Desiro units that are normally used on the Heathrow Connect route, which will now be suspended.
By using these alternative trains, Heathrow Express is operating every 15 minutes between Paddington and Heathrow.
It is reported that pre-bought Heathrow Connect tickets will be accepted on the Heathrow Express, the 140 bus between Heathrow and Hayes & Harlington, and on the London Underground between Paddington and Heathrow.
Heathrow Express director Fraser Brown said: "The safety of our customers and colleagues remains our top priority.
"We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused so far, and assure passengers that we are doing everything we can to return to running a full and safe service, as quickly as possible.
"We would like to thank all our customers for their patience."
The class 332 fleet for Heathrow Express was supplied to BAA after a contract was agreed with a joint venture between Siemens and CAF, and built by CAF at Zaragoza in Spain.