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West Coast Railway fined £200,000 over Wootton Bassett SPAD

West Coast Railway Company Limited (WCRC) has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £64,000 after being found guilty of health and safety breaches which led to a train passing a signal at danger near Wootton Bassett last year.

The prosecution was brought by the ORR after its investigation into the SPAD. The criminal charges related to a 13-carriage steam train, pulled by locomotive No. 34067 Tangmere, passing a signal warning at danger near Wootton Bassett junction. This resulted in the train coming to a stop 550 metres after the signal, right across a busy junction on the GWML and “directly in the path of high speed trains”.

Melvyn Cox, a train driver with 40 years’ experience, has also received a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

In February this year, the ORR banned WCRC from running services on the mainline railway due to continued safety concerns. However, this prohibition notice was lifted in late March.

Last month, however, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch said that WCRC needed to implement a major safety review following the SPAD.

Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said: “Train operating companies and their drivers hold positions of great responsibility, with a duty to protect the safety of colleagues and passengers. Almost all undertake their roles in accordance with the rules and their training.

“WCRC’s ineffective management led to their train driver deliberately misusing a key safety system on a train travelling between Bristol and Southall.

“This prosecution has led to WCRC taking significant steps to improve its management of safety, with support from the regulator.”

The ORR said its inspectors had found significant failings in WCRC’s managerial controls. It added that the company had not implemented appropriate procedures, training or monitoring of staff to stop intentional misuse of the Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) equipment.

Our evidence showed the train’s driver Melvyn Cox directed a colleague to turn off this essential safety system, designed to automatically apply an emergency brake, said the regulator.

(Image: c. Peter Trimming)

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Ian Kerr   06/08/2016 at 11:49

This man was a volunteer on the Swanage railway he did not have forty years as a mainline footplateman..and no amateur volunteer driver has forty years experience. Driving for a month or two every year does not equate to forty years experience..thats for proper main line drivers.

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