Hogwarts train firm suspended from railway

The Hogwarts Express train
The Hogwarts Express train

A Carnforth rail company that runs The Hogwarts Express engine featured in the Harry Potter films has been suspended from operation after one of its trains ran a red light.

An investigation into the incident at Wootton Basset Junction in Wiltshire on March 7 has been launched by the The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

Network Rail’s suspension notice said it “ranked as the most serious Spad (signal passed at danger) that has taken place this year when the industry risk ranking methodology was applied”.

West Coast Railway, based in Jesson Way, operates charter trips on the Settle to Carlisle line, as well as, among others, a route taking in Fort William in the Highlands.

A spokesperson for West Coast Railways said: “A recent breach of safety regulations involving one of our trains crossing a red light has led to discussions by both parties to establish how this happened and more importantly the preventative measures in place to ensure it can’t happen again.

“Although no one was injured in any way West Coast Railways consider this to be sufficient to carry out a full internal enquiry with the support of Network Rail and at this time will not be running trains under their current operator licence.”

The company added it planned to run trips using the licence and services of other providers and would advise passengers about any changes. 

The spokesperson added: “Safety is a primary importance to both West Coast Railways and Network Rail and as such both parties must be absolutely satisfied with the safety measures in place to prevent any such future happenings, through continued discussions and when both parties are satisfied it is hoped that West Coast Railways will resume operation under licence.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Network Rail has issued a suspension notice to West Coast Railway Company Limited (WCR) as a result of ongoing safety concerns. This decision has not been taken lightly, however safety will always be our number one priority.

“We have set out a number of actions to address the safety concerns raised and will continue to work with WCR to ensure their services can run safely in future.”