Rail disruption set to continue into next week after train cracks found


Travel disruption caused by the discovery of cracks in some high-speed trains is expected to continue into next week, a rail industry group has warned.

Robert Nisbet, of the Rail Delivery Group, said initial inspections of 183 trains taken out of service on Saturday should conclude by the end of Sunday.

But he warned that disruption was expected to “carry on for a few days”.

Two of the UK’s busiest rail firms are warning people not to travel on Sunday.

On Saturday Hitachi 800 trains operated by Great Western Railway (GWR) and London North Eastern Railway (LNER) trains were taken out of service for safety inspections.

Hull Trains and TransPennine Express were also affected.

Hitachi has apologised and said it was investigating the issue.

Andrew Barr, CEO of Hitachi Rail, said the decision to withdraw the trains had been taken because of cracks found on the metal that linked the train’s body with the underside of the train, known as the bogie.

Mr Nisbet, whose organisation represents train operators and Network Rail, apologised to anyone affected by the disruption.

He told BBC Breakfast that rail firms were running as many services as possible, including rail replacement services, in addition to putting on extra staff at affected stations, relaxing ticket acceptance rules and offering compensation for delays.

Mr Nisbet said it was “gratifying to see the speed” at which initial inspections were taking place and he understood that Hitachi engineers would complete these inspections by the end of Sunday.

But he cautioned that he was still “expecting some disruption to carry on for a few days”.

He said: “It’s impossible for me to say exactly how long that is going to take, we are obviously going through this as quickly as possible but we don’t want to rush it.

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Welsh election results 2021: Mark Drakeford set to stay as first minister


Labour’s response to the Covid pandemic helped the party retain power after it won the most seats in the Welsh elections, Mark Drakeford has said.

Mr Drakeford is set to continue as Wales’ first minister after Labour won 30 of the 60 Welsh Parliament seats.

The Conservatives had their best Senedd campaign with 16 seats while Plaid in third took 13 seats.

Welsh Labour leader Mr Drakeford has said his next Welsh government would be “radical” and “ambitious”.

He said people felt they’ve been “kept safe here in Wales” and that was a “strong theme” in the election.

“From the very first day of the campaign here in Porthcawl, people have been coming to the doorstep to tell us that they feel glad they’ve lived in Wales over the last 15 months,” said Mr Drakeford.

“A government I lead will continue to follow the science to do what our medical advisers tells us we should do, and that does mean doing things in a way that continues to keep Wales safe.”

The Welsh Government controls Wales’ Covid response and the relaxing of restrictions – such as meeting inside pubs and restaurants and travel rules – has tended to have been more cautious in Wales.

“But on other matters, our manifesto is a radical manifesto with a host of ideas that are ambitious for Wales,” added Mr Drakeford.

“I’ll be very keen to ensure that we give that the most powerful sense of momentum behind it to get those things happening here in Wales.”

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High-speed rail services cancelled after cracks found in trains


Services on two of the country’s busiest railways are facing severe disruption after cracks were spotted on the suspension units of some high-speed trains.

Most Great Western Main Line trains to and from London Paddington have been cancelled.

London North Eastern Railways is asking passengers not to travel on the East Coast Main Line today.

The issue was found in some Hitachi 800 series trains.

Hull Trains and TransPennine Express services are also affected by the problem.

Passengers have been advised to check train operators’ websites before travelling.

All high-speed GWR services between London, Bristol, Cardiff and Penzance have been cancelled and customers are advised not to attempt to travel today.

The disruption to LNER trains means there will be limited to no service on the East Coast – between Edinburgh, Newcastle, York and London.

A spokesman for Hull Trains said the problem was being investigated by Hitachi, and once trains had been checked it was hoped they could be back in service “as soon as possible”.

It warned a significant number of its services could be affected and urged passengers to check before travelling.

GWR passengers can use their tickets on these operators’ services:

LNER passengers can use their tickets on these operators’ services:

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Scottish election results 2021: The story so far


The first day of counting in the 2021 Holyrood election is over, with the SNP dominating the constituency vote. The party won three new seats but failed to win some target constituencies, making it hard, but not impossible, to achieve an overall majority. Here’s the story so far:

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Welsh election 2021: Queues as polls close for Welsh Parliament vote


Voting has officially closed for the Welsh Parliamentary elections as some people had to queue outside polling stations to cast their vote.

Long queues were seen outside some polling stations in the final hours before the ballot closed at 22:00 BST.

While counting for the poll would normally take place overnight, due to the coronavirus pandemic it will start on Friday morning.

The first result is expected to be declared on Friday afternoon.

Polling stations opened at 07:00 on Thursday for people to vote for the new 60 members of the Senedd to make up the Welsh Parliament – and for the next Police and Crime Commissioners.

For the first time 16 and 17-year-olds had the right to vote in Wales – but only in the Senedd election.

With social distancing measures in place – and limited space for people inside polling stations due to strict Covid rules – long queues were seen outside a number of polling stations as the deadline approached.

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Menu from 1913 found during Liverpool cafe refurb


From Irish stew to grilled kidneys and “boiled fowl”, a menu dating back more than 100 years has been found during renovation works at a cafe.

Workmen peeling back old walls discovered the delicate piece of culinary history at the eatery in Liverpool.

The menu, from Wednesday 15 January 1913, is from the former Yamen Cafe in Bold Street.

Staff at the cafe standing at the same site said it had “blown their minds”.

The menu offers a selection of appetising “refreshments, luncheons and afternoon teas”.

Featured dishes include tournedos bearnaise, consommé de volaille and meringues chantilly with pears, reflecting the cosmopolitan character of the Merseyside port city.

As a thriving global hub, Liverpool fully embraced its maritime heritage and this was reflected in the cuisine on the high street, with French bistro dishes listed alongside more traditional English fare.

A bowl of tomato soup cost four old pennies, the equivalent of £1.20 today.

Natalie Haywood, of the present cafe LEAF, said: “It’s really blown our minds. When I saw it I was staggered, it’s like a time capsule hidden in the walls.

“To see what they were doing then, how forward-thinking and creative as a restaurant, is so inspiring.

“We have always known this is a historic building but having the menu in our hands has made it all feel real, something dating back to before the First World War.”

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Covid: Many female athletes ‘may walk away’ after pandemic


Increasing numbers of top female athletes will walk away from their sport due to difficulties during the pandemic, leading figures have warned.

Gymnast Latalia Bevan, 20, and rugby international Angharad de Smet, 24, say Covid has left their careers in the balance.

Sports sociologist Dr Ali Bowes said it had highlighted inequalities in sport.

“There are absolutely concerns women will walk away,” she said.

Wales rugby international de Smet, who has worked on the front line during the pandemic, said she’s been left wondering whether “the love of the game is enough?”

The 24-year-old from Ammanford, who was playing for Wales in the Autumn Internationals and as part of the sevens squad before Covid-19, was “living the life of a professional athlete, without the pay cheque”.

But as Wales began its first lockdown, games and training were cancelled.

Over the last year, she said she’s trained with just one kettlebell, unable to access proper equipment or facilities. Her last game of rugby was 14 months ago.

The physiotherapist technician, who works on an elderly care ward in Swansea, said she has struggled to train after gruelling shifts in hospital.

“You’ve seen things you would hope to never see again in your lifetime, to come home and try and do a gym session… in your tiny kitchen… you think ‘why am I bothering?'”

In 2019, the 24-year-old had been travelling to Worcester to train a couple of times a week after work, arriving home in the early hours.

“Nobody understands how much we give, just the wear and tear on your car, the petrol, putting food on the table, trying to get good food into you to aid recovery is expensive.”

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DUP: Dodds will not bid for re-election as deputy leader


Lord Dodds has said he will not bid to remain deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in its leadership elections next week.

It means the party’s top two roles are being vacated after leader Arlene Foster said she would resign on 28 May.

Lord Dodds has been the party’s deputy leader for 13 years.

The peer and ex-North Belfast MP said he had always planned to step back as deputy leader “whenever the next election cycle occurred”.

He said said he would instead continue to use his position in Parliament to “advance the cause of the union”.

Party officers met on Tuesday to agree the procedure and timetable for the election of both a new leader and a deputy leader.

It is the first time in the party’s 50-year history that a leadership contest will take place.

Last week, Mrs Foster said she would resign as DUP leader this month and as first minister at the end of June.

Edwin Poots and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson are both bidding to succeed Mrs Foster.

Lord Dodds had represented the North Belfast constituency in the House of Commons from 2001 until his defeat in the general election in 2019, when for the first time Sinn Féin won the seat.

Last July, it was announced that he would become a life peer in the House of Lords.

In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, he said that under the party’s rules peers did not form part of the party’s electoral college for leadership positions.

“It would be incongruous and inappropriate to do otherwise,” he said.

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Stuart Lubbock: CPS to consider charges over Barrymore party death


Prosecutors will consider whether to charge a man arrested on suspicion of murdering a guest at entertainer Michael Barrymore’s home in 2001.

Stuart Lubbock, 31, died in hospital after being found unconscious in the TV presenter’s pool in Roydon, Essex.

A man was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault and murder and released under investigation in March.

Essex Police said a file would be submitted “imminently” to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The 50-year-old suspect, who has not been named, was arrested on 17 March in Cheshire after “significant new information” emerged, the force said.

Mr Lubbock, a butcher from Harlow, was at a party with eight other people at Mr Barrymore’s home on 31 March 2001 when he died.

A post-mortem examination showed he suffered severe internal injuries which suggested he had been sexually assaulted.

A spokesman for the force said: “Following our substantial and detailed investigation, we will imminently be submitting a file to the CPS for their consideration and decision.”

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Covid: Gyms open and families hug as rules relax in Wales


Some families and friends have been able to hug for the first time in months and people went back to gyms as Covid lockdown rules eased in Wales.

Two households – plus another living on their own – can now form a “bubble” to meet and have contact indoors.

Gyms, swimming pools and community centres have reopened after a relaxing of restrictions while indoor classes for adults and children can restart.

Wales’ Covid case rate has fallen to its lowest point in eight months.

Organised children’s indoor activities – like sports classes, scouts, guides – can also restart for the first time since lockdown returned in December.

Indoor fitness classes can begin again for up to 15 adults, but only if they are organised and in a regulated setting, like a studio or gym.

However, children’s birthday parties and family gatherings are still banned.

Children’s soft play areas are not due to reopen until 17 May – the day pubs and restaurants are due to open indoors and all holiday accommodation can reopen.

Gyms, fitness facilities, leisure centres, spas and swimming pools were all able to reopen from Monday, with strict social distancing and sanitising procedures in place.

This latest easing of lockdown is the last act of the current Welsh Labour government before Thursday’s Welsh Parliament election.

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