Safety first: Droplight windows on Heritage and Charter trains

By Ian Skinner, Head of Heritage, Trams & Light Rail

13 August 2019

Droplight windows can be dangerous. GTR was recently fined £1 million for health and safety failings after a passenger lost his life when his head passed through a window on the Gatwick Express in August 2016.

Although some trains on the mainline railway use droplight windows, they are used more on heritage railways and we know that operators - and passengers - want to continue using Mark 1, 2 and 3 carriages, so we are working with heritage railways to ensure they can provide an authentic experience which passengers can enjoy in safety.

Mainline operators, and charter operators using heritage stock on the mainline, are already looking at ways to meet safety standards expected after December 2019, including fitting internal door handles and lockable windows. From 31 March 2023, we expect all heritage stock on the mainline to be fitted with internal door handles and lockable windows.

Full steam ahead

Heritage railways are different – the simple fact that they run at a maximum speed of 25mph makes the windows safer to have in place – but more is needed.

We want to see every heritage railway conduct a thorough risk assessment and then take appropriate and reasonably practicable measures including moving lineside structures such as signal posts away from the track, cutting back vegetation, restricted window opening to allow ventilation only , putting up prominent signs and making announcements over the public address system.

And, in cases where it is clear that passengers’ actions are putting themselves at risk, the railways need to have a sufficient number of stewards in place who are empowered to remove passengers from the train if they won’t obey safety instructions

There are more than 200 heritage railways operating across Great Britain providing great days out for tens of thousands of people and employing thousands of people in a range of jobs. We are determined that they continue to thrive and passengers can enjoy a1950s/1960s experience with 21st Century standards of safety.