West Coast Railways prohibited from running rail services

More bad news for the West Coast Railway Company. The Office of Rail and Road have prohibited the heritage train operator from running rail services following repeated safety breaches.

Safety incidents involving WCRC over the past year include:

In June 2015, a WCRC train moved forward while preparing to leave Reading station, due to miscommunication between the guard and driver.

In September 2015, a WCRC train collided with the buffers at Weymouth, In September 2015, ORR inspectors found WCRC’s safety risk assessments for operating steam trains were out of date and that, even so, WCRC staff were not aware of their existence.

In October 2015, staff on a WCRC train near Doncaster turned off its Train Protection and Warning System isolation equipment, designed to apply an emergency brake if the driver makes an error.

All these were after the earlier suspension following the Wootton Bassett incident involving “Tangmere”, which leads to the conclusion the WCRC’s management have not got their act together and made safety a sufficient priority, and indeed suggests that it was only a matter of time before their luck ran out and there was a serious accident with the possibility of multiple fatalities.

This leaves DB Schenker as the only licenced operator of steam trains on the main line.

As for WCRC, they’re now drinking in the last chance saloon, if that isn’t a highly inapproriate metaphor. It’s not hard to imagine the company going into liquidation, with their assets including locmotives and rolling stock sold to another operator.

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2 Responses to West Coast Railways prohibited from running rail services

  1. Michael says:

    If the event at Reading had been a “once off” then forgiveness might have been possible.

    But it wasn’t. The October 15 event should not have happened because the September 15 event should have seen them grounded.

    I like seeing big steam locomogives out on the main line, but the operators have to know what they are doing!

  2. Tim Hall says:

    I’ve seen some extracts of the ORR letter to WCRC posted online; it’s damning stuff, and reading between the lines it does look as though ORR is calling for the chairman’s head. It’s being implied he runs his company like a personal train set rather than a proper business and has a completely cavalier attitude towards safety.

    Let’s hope main line steam survives under a more responsible operator.