The operator of the Hogwarts Express steam train, West Coast Railways (WCR), is taking the UK’s rail regulator, the Office for Rail and Road (ORR), to court over a decision to enforce the modernisation of heritage train locking systems.
This latest issue revolves around the bid to ban the slam doors on the train’s 1950s carriages, due to concerns over their potential confusion to GenZ users. Critics argue that the train’s vintage charm is compromised by the outdated door mechanism, which may befuddle younger passengers accustomed to more modern designs.
The clash between traditional and contemporary demands poses a significant challenge for WCR and raises questions about the compatibility of heritage attractions with modern sensibilities.
WCR argues that the installation of new technology will cost £7 million and make the sector unviable. The dispute stems from safety concerns surrounding the locking systems on heritage trains, some of which use old-fashioned bolt systems above each door. New regulations introduced this year require WCR to install central locking systems, as the exemption it previously operated under ended in June.
WCR believes that traditional locks, along with trained stewards monitoring carriage doors, adequately address safety risks.
However, the ORR insists that central locking systems are necessary to prevent passengers from opening doors when the platform is too short. The ORR also found safety concerns during a surprise examination of the Hogwarts Express service over the summer, resulting in a temporary suspension. A decision on the case is expected in the coming weeks or months.
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