That thump you heard was the sound of The Book being thrown at The West Coast Railway Company. ORR is to prosecute over the incident at Wootton Bassett
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has today started criminal proceedings against train operator West Coast Railway Company Limited (WCRC) and one of its drivers. The charges relate to breaches of Health and Safety Law which led to a train passing a signal warning at danger on 7 March 2015.
The prosecutions follow ORR’s investigation into an incident involving a steam locomotive operated by WCRC, which passed a signal at danger near Wootton Bassett junction, Wiltshire. This extremely serious incident resulted in the train coming to a stop 550 metres after the signal, across a busy junction on the Great Western main line, directly in the path of high speed trains.
The train’s driver is facing charges under section 7(a) and 8 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA). This relates to his alleged intentional misuse of the Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) equipment. ORR’s investigation found that the driver directed a colleague to turn off this essential safety system, designed to apply an emergency brake if the driver makes an error.
WCRC is separately facing charges under section 3(1) and 2(1) of the HSWA. This is on account of its alleged failure to implement managerial controls, procedures, training and monitoring to prevent staff turning off the TPWS equipment.
ORR has been closely monitoring WCRC’s operation since this incident. ORR has also today launched a review of WCRC’s safety certificate, which is needed to operate its trains on the rail network.
This comes after the West Coast Railway Company had it’s steam operators’ licence suspended a second time after another incident in which a driver isolated the TPWS system on a moving locomotive hauling a train carrying passengers.