Posted 21st March 2024 | 1 Comment

Rail Regulator defends decision to force Jacobite suspension

The Office of Rail and Road has defended its decision to force the Jacobite heritage steam service in the western Highlands of Scotland to be suspended because doors on the coaches have no central locking.

Its operator West Coast Railways had been ordered to take coaches not equipped with full central locking out of service. The use of coaches with hinged doors had been covered by an exemption, but that has now been withdrawn, although WCR had asked for it to continue.

WCR commercial manager James Shuttleworth said: ‘We are disappointed to have to suspend this service and we are sorry for the inconvenience caused to our customers who have booked trips. We again appeal to the ORR to reconsider our request for a temporary exemption.’

The ORR has responded: ‘All heritage operators were told several years ago that in order to operate after 31 March 2023 they either needed to fit central door locking or obtain an exemption from us. West Coast Railways’ application for an exemption failed and they made a claim for judicial review. A temporary exemption was granted in order to maintain the status quo, enabling WCR to operate whilst the litigation reached a conclusion.

‘Despite this, WCR chose to sell tickets when it was far from certain that a new application for an exemption would be granted, either in time for the commencement of services, or at all. It submitted an exemption application on 8 March, which we are now assessing. ORR is disappointed that WCR appears not to have made sensible contingency plans for the benefit of their customers.’

Reader Comments:

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  • John Williamson, PORT COQUITLAM

    We are here in Scotland from Canada, and only found out once we were in country. With the WCR knowing full well they needed a certificate and failed to act, then knowingly sold tickets, I'm thinking a lawsuit is in order, and will be looking into it once back in Canada. Hotels and train tickets booked. Now just the hotel. Going to make the best of it, but not going down without a fight.