England

Rail ban lifted on 'near miss' steam train firm

Tangmere locomotive
Image caption The Tangmere locomotive passed a signal at danger in Royal Wootton Bassett last March

A rail ban on a steam train operator accused of posing a "serious risk" to the network has been lifted.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said it was now "satisfied" with measures taken by West Coast Railways.

A West Coast Railways train stopped on a Wiltshire junction last year less than a minute after a high-speed train had crossed it.

The firm said it was "delighted" the ban had been lifted and said passenger safety was paramount.

The Lancashire-based firm runs heritage steam and diesel trains on tours along scenic routes across the UK.

This includes the Jacobite steam train which runs across the Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Scottish Highlands, made famous as the route of the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.

But, after the incident on the Great Western Main Line at Royal Wootton Bassett in March 2015, the ORR reviewed the firm's safety certification.

It said "failings" by the firm "create a significant risk to operations on the mainline network".

HM Inspector of Railways Ian Prosser said the ORR had now "received evidence of assurances that steps have been taken to remedy the issues identified", including introducing clearer governance structures with "proper accountability for safety".

He said the firm would now be "closely monitored".

WCRC said it was "delighted" the ban had been lifted, adding: "Passenger safety is our primary concern and all efforts to ensure the safe and smooth operation of all our services have been made."

The firm, and a driver, are facing criminal proceedings under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

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