- Press notices
North Yorkshire steam railway operator fined £4,000 for level crossing collision
19 November 2012
Heritage railway operator, Wensleydale Railway, has today been fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000 following a prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) for breaches of health and safety law which led to a collision between a train and a car at a level crossing near Newton-le-Willows in North Yorkshire.
On 1 August 2011, a steam train carrying 58 passengers collided with a car at Fox Park No.1 crossing, which connects a private farm access road with a public road across the rail line operated by Wensleydale Railway. The car was extensively damaged in the collision, and the train sustained minor damage. Neither the driver of the car nor any passengers on board the train suffered any injuries.
Today’s sentencing at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court follows an extensive investigation by ORR into the incident which found that users of the crossing had insufficient visibility of oncoming trains, placing them in unnecessary danger. This was caused by Wensleydale Railway not having in place adequate procedures to manage vegetation alongside the rail line. Evidence showed that prior to the collision vegetation at the crossing had not been cut back since October 2010.
Ian Raxton, ORR’s Principal Inspector of Heritage and Light Rail, said:
“Wensleydale Railway’s failure to cut back vegetation alongside the route of its rail line placed those using the level crossing in grave danger. Crossing users had severely limited visibility of oncoming trains, making it extremely difficult to take a safe decision to cross. It is indefensible to have such a lax approach to public and worker safety, and only after the regulator undertook enforcement action did Wensleydale Railway make significant improvements.
“The vast majority of heritage railways in Great Britain successfully identify, manage and control the safety risks associated with their business. ORR will be closely monitoring Wensleydale Railway’s performance and will not hesitate to intervene should further failings be found.”
Notes to editors:
- The Office of Rail Regulation is the independent safety and economic regulator for Great Britain’s railways.
- On 19 November 2012 Wensleydale Railway pleaded guilty to failing to ensure that persons not in their employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety contrary to sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
- The charge related to the company’s failure to maintain and cut back vegetation along the rail line, in particular at level crossings, causing an obstruction to persons trying to use the crossing.