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Charter operator urges rethink over doors ban




West
Coast
Railways


is
urging
the
Office
of
Rail
and
Road
to
reconsider
its
ruling
that
coaches
without
central
locking
on
their
hinged
doors
can
no
longer
operate
on
Network
Rail
infrastructure.



The
withdrawal
of
the
exemption
which
had
allowed
older
rolling
stock
without
central
locking
to
be
used
was
challenged
by
heritage
operator
WCR
in
the
High
Court
late
last
year,
but
on
22
December
the
court
dismissed
its
appeal.
Mrs
Justice
Thornton
said
a
feature
of
the
services
like
the
Jacobite
between
Fort
William
and
Mallaig
was
the
hinged
doors
that
‘can
be
opened
by
anyone
inside
the
train
even
when
the
train
is
moving’.



She
described
central
locking
as
‘common
sense’,
because
it
was
safer
on
a
system
which
was
‘dependent
on
no
more
than
an
assumption
by
the
guard
that
the
stewards
have
locked
the
doors’.
She
added
that
the
ORR
had
observed
that
there
was
no
evidence
of
a
WCR
investigation
or
‘lessons
learnt’
after
a
charter
train
had
departed
from
York
with
a
door
open
in
October
2020.



The
ORR
told
the
judge
that
it
did
not
want
heritage
operators
to
go
out
of
business,
but
that
it
wanted
‘minimum
safety
standards’.
The
exemption
was
withdrawn
from
10
January. 



Following
the
court’s
decision,
WCR
had
asked
the
ORR
to
keep
the
exemption
until
29
February,
while
it
worked
with
the
regulator
to
find
a
long-term
solution,
but
this
was
refused. 



WCR
commercial
manager
James
Shuttleworth
said:
‘We
are
already
considering
a
range
of
options
and
had
asked
the
ORR
to
allow
the
current
exemption
to
run
its
course,
to
give
us
time
to
put
forward
detailed
proposals.



‘Our
much-loved
services,
enjoyed
by
so
many
visitors
from
the
UK
and
around
the
world,
support
a
large
number
of
businesses
along
our
routes.
The
Jacobite
alone
has
become
an
intrinsic
part
of
Scottish
tourism,
boosting
the
economies
of
Mallaig
and
Fort
William.
It
brings
an
estimated
£20
million
into
the
UK’s
tourism
sector
to
which
we
contribute
£50
million
overall
every
year.
For
everyone
relying
on
these
incredible
heritage
services
this
decision
is
a
body
blow.’



In
spite
of
the
ruling,
trains
without
central
locking
on
their
coaches
will
continue
to
be
allowed
on
heritage
railways
where
the
maximum
speed
is
40kmh
(25mph),
but
the
withdrawal
of
the
exemption
applies
to
all
heritage
operations
on
the
National
Rail
network,
including
WCR’s
scheduled
‘Jacobite’.

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