The Health & Safety Monster is Coming for Dad's Favourite Heritage Rail Carriages

By Gary Cutlack on at

The little heritage railway services that link two places you don't want to be in via a steam train that only operates on Thursdays in August are in peril, as looming stricter health and safety laws for such legacy rolling beasts could see some operators forced out of business.

There's a sad reason behind the rule-toughening in the form of a recent death on the mainline services, when a man died on the Gatwick Express after poking his head out of the window and being struck by trackside furniture. The heritage steam trains and their old fashioned sliding windows and doors you're trusted to open yourself are therefore in the firing line, with the Office of Rail and Road ruling that changes are needed – and all doors and windows, no matter how old and even if they're behind a steam train heading out of Mallaig at 15mph twice a year, must be barred, centrally locked and better controlled, lest someone else do their head in on a pillar or post.

The Scottish Railway Preservation Society says this could end up creating millions of pounds worth of additional costs for the heritage rail operators, although the rule changes only cover ancient trains allowed to mingle with modern trains on the mainline lines; those that trundle on specific heritage lines all to themselves are safe. [Scotsman]