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WCR keeps safety certificate


But ORR issues operator with improvement notice

The Office of Rail and Road has not revoked the safety certificate of charter operator West Coast Railways, but has issued the company with an improvement notice.

The move follows a Signal Passed at Danger (SPAD) incident at Wootton Bassett on 7 March. Network Rail suspended WCR’s track access rights for over a month while the operator made improvements to its safety procedures. At the same time, the ORR wrote to WCR informing the company that it was considering revoking its safety certificate and invited the company to make representations. ORR also consulted about the decision with other interested parties.

In a letter dated 19 May, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser, informed the company that the regulator is ‘satisfied that there is no significant risk requiring the revocation of WCR’s safety certificate’. However, Mr Prosser adds that the proposed changes to the operator’s management system have not yet been fully embedded and there are still some outstanding matters requiring attention, so the ORR has served an improvement notice on WCR.

WCR has taken a number of steps to improve its procedures following the suspension by Network Rail, including the recruitment of a Non-Executive Director, General Manager and additional staff to supplement its safety management team. ORR has held meetings with WCR during the 28-day representation period, where it told the company that it needed to show that it ‘is committed to making the necessary changes from board level down to secure a safety management system which is fit for the scale of your operations’. ORR also carried out inspections of WCR’s driver management systems, train movements and maintenance facilities.

The improvement notice, dated 20 May, says that WCR has ‘not sufficiently documented or implemented all parts of [its] safety management system to ensure the control of risks associated with [its] operation’. This is required to be remedied by 20 July.

In a statement, Mr Prosser added: ‘ORR inspectors have carried out an extensive investigation into the standards of safety on [WCR’s] passenger services. ORR has issued an Improvement Notice to ensure WCRC delivers further improvements. This will ensure workers are provided with suitable training and effective systems to control safety risks and have clearly defined performance indicators in place. ORR will closely monitor the company and will not hesitate to step in if any non-compliance with the Improvement Notice is found.’

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