Driver of steam train operated by Harry Potter Hogwarts Express company avoids crash by just 44 SECONDS

  • Driver missed warning after being 'distracted by activity within the cab'
  • Train Protection automatic braking system had been turned off by crew 
  • Tangmere steam train was seconds away from hitting First Great Western
  • West Coast Railways were suspended for six weeks following the incident 

A steam train operated by the same company as the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express narrowly avoided a high-speed crash with a passenger train when the driver became 'distracted' and missed a 'danger' signal to slow down.

An investigation into the incident determined that the West Coast Railways driver missed a near-collision by just 44 seconds after he ran the red light 'because he had become distracted by activity within the cab and possibly also because he was experiencing a higher workload than normal.'

The Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) system, which should have automatically forced the train to brake at the signal, also failed to work. It was found that the safety setting had been 'rendered ineffective' by crew members earlier in the trip 'in order to by-pass a speed restriction'.

The report revealed that the Tangmere steam train (pictured) was seconds away from hitting the First Great Western passenger service because the driver missed the signal which meant he was unable to stop in time

The report revealed that the Tangmere steam train (pictured) was seconds away from hitting the First Great Western passenger service because the driver missed the signal which meant he was unable to stop in time

The driver also allegedly has been involved in a previous safety breach a decade before, Herald Scotland reported. 

The report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) revealed that the Tangmere steam train was seconds away from hitting the First Great Western passenger service because the driver missed the signal which meant he was unable to stop the train in time, once he realised it was in danger.

According to the Herald, the 13-coach train sped through Wootton Bassett Junction in Wiltshire and only managed to come to a halt 1,800ft later - where it sat blocking the path of oncoming trains.

The First Great Western passenger train travelling from Swansea to London Paddington had passed through the junction just 44 seconds earlier.

In the report, officials warned that 'by-passing safety systems, or isolating them other than in accordance with the requirements of the relevant rules, can have catastrophic consequences.'

The 13-coach train sped through Wootton Bassett Junction in Wiltshire and only managed to come to a halt 1,800ft later - where it sat blocking the path of oncoming trains

The 13-coach train sped through Wootton Bassett Junction in Wiltshire and only managed to come to a halt 1,800ft later - where it sat blocking the path of oncoming trains

West Coast Railways, based in Carnforth, Lancashire, owns a fleet of steam locomotives (Jacobite pictured)

West Coast Railways, based in Carnforth, Lancashire, owns a fleet of steam locomotives (Jacobite pictured)

WCR SUSPENSION NOTICE 2015

West Coast Railways were suspended following the incident on March 7 last year. 

'Network Rail has had concerns about West Coast Railways performance of its safety obligations for some time.

'Recent events lead Network Rail to believe that the operations of West Coast Railways are a threat to the safe operation of the railway.'

No injuries, damage or derailment occurred as a result of the incident but services by West Coast Railways were suspended following the incident on March 7 last year and were later restarted in May.

The investigation also stated that West Coast Railways had a 'weak safety culture' and that this had affected the way its staff observed rules and instructions.

In the report, which was published on Thursday, officials concluded: 'Isolating AWS (automated warning systems) in this way was in contravention of the relevant rules but the RAIB has found that it had almost certainly become an accepted practice among some train crews on this locomotive. 

'As a result of this incident, RAIB has made five recommendations. One recommendation is addressed to Rail Safety and Standards Board, working in conjunction with steam train operators and Network Rail, and relates to a review of the arrangements intended to assess, prevent and mitigate the risks associated with steam movements.

'Three recommendations are addressed to West Coast Railways. These relate to a review of its safety management system and safety culture; the implementation of industry best-practice concerning the management of drivers' knowledge of operating routes; and the arrangements for maintaining on train data recorders.

'One recommendation is addressed to Network Rail. This concerns the way that emergency and temporary speed restrictions are designed and implemented.' 

The First Great Western passenger train travelling from Swansea to London Paddington had passed through the junction just 44 seconds earlier

The First Great Western passenger train travelling from Swansea to London Paddington had passed through the junction just 44 seconds earlier

West Coast Railways, based in Carnforth, Lancashire, owns a fleet of steam locomotives including Olton Hall, the train used as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.

The 78-year-old steam train that operated throughout the film franchise was installed at a new extension of the Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden in 2015.

Platform 9 ¾, which gives Harry Potter fans the chance to climb aboard the train's carriage and to pose with a luggage trolley as it disappears through the platform wall, is operating as normal.

A spokesperson for West Coast Railways told MailOnline: 'WCR have recently undergone a complete overhaul and restructure covering all aspects of its health and safety policy including the strengthening of its main board and senior management team, this has been carried out and completed to the satisfaction of the Office of Road and Rail (ORR).'

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