West Coast Railways charged over safety breach

'Tangmere' near Gomshall, Surrey. Credit: Peter Trimming
ORR charges West Coast Railways and driver over safety breach at Wiltshire
Published Wed, 2015-12-09 14:50

West Coast Railways has been charged with breaches of Health and Safety law after a driver passed a signal at danger in Wiltshire in March.

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Editorial

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'Tangmere' by Peter Trimming. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

West Coast Railways has been charged with breaches of Health and Safety law after a driver passed a signal at danger in Wilshire in March.
 
The Office of Rail and Road has brought criminal proceedings against WCR and the driver, who bypassed safety equipment near Wootton Bassett junction, bringing the locomotive to a stop across a busy main line junction.
 
In a statement, the ORR said the driver would be charged for “intentional misuse of the Train Protection and Warning System equipment” under section 7(a) and 8 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
 
WCR is facing separate charges for failing to implement proper managerial controls, training and monitoring to prevent staff from turning off the equipment.
 
The ORR’s investigation of the incident on 7 March found that the driver directed a colleague to turn off the safety system, which is designed to apply an emergency brake if the driver makes an error. As a result, No 34067 ‘Tangmere’ came to a stop 550 metres after the signal, directly in the path of high-speed trains.
 
Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways at ORR said the driver’s actions “could have easily led to a catastrophic incident”.
 
“The safety of staff, volunteers, passengers and members of the public is our absolute priority,” he said.
 
“Britain’s railways have a good safety record. However, there have been a number of incidents over the past year involving West Coast Railway Company (WCRC) trains.”
 
The announcement caps off a rough year for WCR, after the operator fell foul of regulators for a second time last month when a driver was again found to have turned off its TPWS equipment, this time near Doncaster.
 
On November 24 the ORR issued a temporary ban on all WCR steam operations, but lifted the suspension on some locomotives, which were inspected and cleared for work.
 
Both WCR and the driver of ‘Tangmere’ have been ordered to appear at Swindon Magistrates’ Court in January.