A popular local steam railway has been fined thousands of pounds after a rail volunteer fell from a carriage roof and broke his leg.

The Gwili Railway has been ordered to pay a total of £36,000 after the Office of Rail and Road regulator concluded that not enough safety measures had been put in place to prevent the accident from taking place at the Llwyfan Cerrig Yard in Carmarthen.

This week the Gwili Railway pleaded guilty to one offence under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 at Llanelli Magistrates Court.

The accident took place on June 16, 2022 when the volunteer broke his right leg after falling from a Mark 1 coach as he attempted to pull tent fabric over a frame that was positioned over two railway coaches.

As a result of his injuries, the volunteer spent several days in hospital and required surgery.

The industry regulator found there was a lack of planning, management and supervision, which was exacerbated by the fact that the activity was carried out over several days.  This, stated the regulator, carried an extended risk of falling from height.

The regulator stated that:

  • Not enough measures were in place to protect against falling from the carriage roof;
  • None of the volunteers had competence in working at height;
  • The ladder that was being used by the volunteer was found to be in a poor condition;

A Prohibition Notice was served by an Office of Rail and Road (ORR) inspector on Gwili Railway 12 days following the accident.

Meanwhile the company has said it had taken "numerous steps" to address its failing and apologised to the court for the incident.

"Working at height, accidents are too frequent in the heritage sector, and Gwili Railway Company Ltd is fortunate its inadequate measures did not result in more serious injury,” commented Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways.

Meanwhile the railway's chairman, Matt Bowen, said the company was "disappointed" that the industry regulator chose to prosecute the incident,but said the company understood its reasoning.

The railway was fined £18,000 in addition to paying the ORR's full costs of £18,557.