New 'leaking' London to Cardiff trains taken out of service

New intercity trainImage copyright GWR

Four new trains have been taken out of service on the Great Western Railway network after their launch was plagued by issues.

The first destined for Wales from London - the 08:15 BST to Cardiff was cancelled on Monday.

Issues included water leaking from air conditioning systems on to commuters.

A GWR spokesman said the new Intercity Express Trains have received a software upgrade to fix issues and will return to service soon.

The four five-carriage trains will be faster and carry more passengers and are designed to run on GWR lines for the next 27 years.

As well as fixing air conditioning leaks, the upgrade should solve other issues[1] and improve the customer information displays.

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Media captionThe first of the new GWR trains was more than 20 minutes late with leaking air-con

"We hope to have them back in passenger service as soon as possible," the GWR spokesman said.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns had admitted there were "teething problems" after the first service to Wales, the 08:15 BST London to Cardiff, was cancelled, but he was excited the trains would be "the most modern on the network".

GWR described the new trains as the "biggest fleet upgrade in a generation".

Despite the cancellation of the first scheduled service, following trains ran from London to Swansea on Monday....

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Nissan halts domestic production after improper inspections

Nissan's Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa bows in apologyImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Nissan chief executive Hiroto Saikawa bows at a press conference announcing the recall

Nissan shares fell 2% on Friday after the firm suspended domestic production for two weeks over concerns with its inspection procedures.

The firm will stop production at its six Japanese plants to ensure they comply with safety regulations.

Earlier this month Nissan recalled 1.2m cars[1] after uncertified inspectors conducted checks on domestic models.

Japan's transport minister Keiichi Ishii said it was unclear how long the misconduct had been going on.

His comments were in response to a report by national broadcaster NHK, which said the practice had been going on for 20 years.

Nissan has declined to directly confirm or deny the NHK report.

At a press conference on Thursday, however, Nissan's chief executive Hiroto Saikawa said the company's procedure for certifying vehicle inspection staff had not changed for two decades.

Checks by uncertified technicians continued even after Nissan had said it had strengthened its inspection processes, when the issue first came to light late last month.

Nissan will continue to produce vehicles for export, as the certification process for final inspections does not apply to vehicles shipped overseas.

The firm, which is Japan's second-largest carmaker, produced roughly 79,300 passenger and commercial vehicles in Japan in August, including 27,600 for the domestic market.

The issue has tarnished Nissan's brand, and along with scandals at Kobe Steel[2] and Takata Airbags[3], could have an impact on Japan's reputation for quality....

References

  1. ^ recalled 1.2m cars (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ Kobe Steel (www.bbc.co.uk)
  3. ^ Takata Airbags (www.bbc.co.uk)

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The end of Australia's car-making industry

A image from a 1970s advert showing a Holden car inside a map of AustraliaImage copyright Holden Image caption A 1970s advert featuring a Holden car and smiling, patriotic Australians

Australia's final locally made car left the production line on Friday when Holden stopped manufacturing in the nation.It is considered the end of an era after similar exits by Ford and Toyota, writes the BBC's Hywel Griffith in Sydney.

"We love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars."

The chorus to Holden's 1970s TV advert tells you everything you need to know about the company that gave Australia its first homegrown, mass-produced motorcar.

Or almost everything - since 1931, this all-Aussie brand has in fact been owned by the American giant General Motors.

It is Holden's position in the global market that is key to understanding the rise and fall of car manufacturing in Australia.

Holden started off as an Adelaide saddle-maker before adapting to the arrival of motorbikes and cars by supplying upholstery and vehicle bodies.

Following World War Two, it got the backing of the Australian government, which wanted to kickstart domestic car manufacturing and give the nation some global status.

The birth of the first Holden 48-215 in 1948 began the public's love affair with "Australia's own car", which would blossom over the decades.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A former Ford employee speaks to reporters after a factory closure last year

"It's what we grew up with, it's just what we know," explains Jason Fischer from Gosford Classic Car Museum, as he shows me their collection of vintage Holdens, from one of the first 48-215s to a classic Aussie ute.

"I came home from hospital in a Holden car, my dad had one, my grandfather had one and so on, so you know - it's just a natural progression."

While there were other cars on the market, Holden could lay claim to producing the first vehicle made by Australians, for Australians.

"They were rugged, they could deal with our temperatures," Mr Fischer says."Outback Australia is a pretty harsh place and these things were made tough."

Tribal loyalty

Through the 1960s and '70s, Holden was king of the road in Australia, with the only serious competition coming from Ford, who launched their own Australian-made family car, the Falcon.

Toyota also started production in Australia in 1963, but it was Holden and Ford who built almost tribal loyalty among their customers, which culminated each year in the companies going head-to-head in the Bathurst 1000 motor race.

These were the sunshine years - the time of that technicolor TV advert for meat pies and kangaroos that showed Holden cars being driven by happy, smiling, patriotic Australians.

As more families could afford a car, Holden expanded and introduced its popular new model, the Commodore.

Until the late 1980s, steep import tariffs kept Australian-made cars ahead of the pack, as foreign-built vehicles from the rest of the world remained largely unaffordable.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Toyota announced in 2014 it would cease manufacturing in Australia

But that same protectionist policy may have created complacency, according to Prof Roy Green, the dean of UTS Business School in Sydney.

"In a sense, the Australian local assembly industry was destined to fail because it was established originally behind very high tariff barriers," he argues.

"It couldn't become export competitive when the tariffs were reduced.This is when imports started to flood in and the local industry was very slow to adapt, very slow to take on new ideas and methods."

As those tariffs started to fall, global competition increased - but Holden's decline wasn't instant.

The company's Commodore model continued to figure prominently among Australia's best-selling cars well into the 21st Century.

Holden was also an important exporter, shipping cars to the Middle East and Brazil, and contributing significantly to Australia's balance of trade.

'Loss for Australia'

But by 2013, with decades of government subsidies drying up, the writing was on the wall and Holden announced it could no longer afford to manufacture cars in Australia.

With Ford and Toyota[1] already having ceased production in Australia, Holden said its vehicles would also be built abroad.

The decision means the deep loyalty many customers have felt will be tested.

Image copyright EPA Image caption A parade featuring classic Holden cars in Adelaide earlier this week

At the Australian Car Sales garage in western Sydney, we found one worker with a Holden tattoo on his arm.

But manager Shayne Hennessey is concerned about how people will respond.

"I think it's going to be a huge loss for Australia," he says."I don't think the public are going to take lightly to this, they might go to a different brand."

At the moment around 70% of customers at his used car yard are looking for a Holden Commodore, and he anticipates there will at least be an initial spike in sales for the last Australian-made Holden cars.

"The only thing it's going to be now is a historic car," he says."[For] people who can afford to put it away in the garage, it might be worth a fair bit of money in years to come."

With the rapid growth in electric vehicles threatening to disrupt the market, there is at least some hope Australia could one day produce its own cars again.

But for now, the story of "Australia's own car" seems to be at the end of the road....

References

  1. ^ Toyota (www.bbc.co.uk)

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Southern drivers to be balloted to end dispute

Southern trainImage copyright PA Image caption Aslef and Southern have been locked in a dispute over the proposed new trains since April 2016

Southern rail drivers are to be balloted on a proposed deal to end their long-running dispute, Aslef has said.

The proposed agreement also includes a five-year pay deal worth 28.5%.

The train drivers' union said the offer would be put to members with a recommendation from its executive committee to accept.

Aslef and Southern have been locked in a dispute over driver-only operated (DOO) trains since April 2016.

The union's general secretary Mick Whelan said a resolution had been proposed on outstanding issues with parent company Govia Thameslink Railway over DOOs - also known as driver-controlled operated (DCO) - terms and conditions, and pay.

'Full support'

"The proposed agreement on DOO means we will have a second safety-trained person on every train covered by this agreement, except in exceptional circumstances.

"That person will have all the relevant safety competence including the skills to evacuate passengers in an emergency," he said.

Ballot papers will go out to members on Tuesday with the result due to be announced on 8 November.

The pay deal covers settlements each year from October 2016 to 2020.

Image caption Ballot papers will go out to Southern rail drivers next week

Mr Whelan said:"This proposed agreement has the full support of the negotiating team and Aslef's executive committee.

"This is, we think, a complete resolution of our long-standing issues with Southern but it is, I must stress, company-specific and does not have implications for any other company on the railway network."

Nick Brown, GTR's chief operating officer, said:"We welcome the Aslef executive's endorsement of the proposals we have negotiated to resolve the dispute.

"We have concluded negotiations on pay, productivity and driver-only-operation in a package that will now be put to a referendum of Aslef members."

The company has also been in dispute with the RMT union, whose members are mostly conductors.

In a statement, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:"Once again RMT has been excluded from these negotiations.

"This is just a rehash of earlier company and government proposals that have been roundly rejected as unsafe."...

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