’Harry Potter’ train firm fined for health & safety breaches

The operator has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £64,000 costs for its health & safety breach

The West Coast Railway Company, famous for their Jacobite steam train, have pleaded guilty to health & safety breaches and have been handed financial penalties at Swindon Crown Court.

The operator was fined £200,000 and made to pay £64,000 in costs.

The company pleaded guilty to a number of breaches, one of which resulted in a passenger train going through a red ‘danger’ signal on March 7 last year, near Wootton Bassett.

Due to the incident, Network Rail imposed a six week ban on the operator and a prosecution was carried out by the Office of Rail and Road.

The West Coast Railway Company (WCRC), is well-known across Scotland for running the steam locomotive-hauled tourist train, called Jacobite. The train runs throughout the summer months between Fort William and Mallaig.

Harry Potter train firm convicted of health & safety breaches

Harry Potter train firm convicted of health & safety breaches

On route, the train travels across the Glenfinnan viaduct, a very famous scene in the much loved Harry Potter films, where Jacobite plays the part of the Hogwarts Express.

The incident, however, involved another steam locomotive owned by the company, the Tangmere, which at the time of the incident was travelling between Bristol and Southall.

The investigation revealed that the Tangmere steam locomotive passed through the Wootton Bassett junction, even though a red signal warning to stop had been given to the driver.

Luckily, the Tangmere managed to avoid colliding with a First Great Western passenger service, which was on its way from Swansea to London Paddington and had only forty-four seconds earlier passed through the same junction.

The train stopped around 700 metres after the signal, on a busy junction, right in the path of oncoming trains.

During the investigation, it was discovered that Mr Cox, the driver of the train, had ordered a work colleague to turn off this crucial safety system, which is designed to automatically employ the emergency brake.

Melvyn Cox was given a four month jail sentence, suspended for eighteen months.

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