The National Traction Engine Trust

The Trust is saddened to learn of the conviction of Tony Reen for serious breaches of health and safety obligations following a successful prosecution brought by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). This news is carried on the ORR's news page (http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.10096) and on Old Glory's news page (http://www.oldglory.co.uk/news/competent-person-failed-to-properly-inspect-loco-boiler)

The NTET has always held that competent persons acting in the role of boiler inspector are an extremely important backstop that helps in safeguarding the longevity of our hobby. When the process of inspections is seen to fail, as it appears to have done in this case, a number of questions are inevitably raised about the ethics, conduct and integrity of the boiler inspections community, particularly the so called independent boiler inspectors.

It is to their credit that the independent boiler inspectors have recently joined together to form The Association of Independent Boiler Inspectors to address these same issues. The Trust has been encouraged by their endeavours thus far. However, it is one thing to have standards and procedures but it quite another to ensure that they are adhered to. Let us sincerely hope that this fledgling organisation will have the courage and conviction to deal with these issues as they arise, for all our sakes.

In the past the Trust has been heavily criticised by engine owners and non-owners for attempting to put in place standards and controls for boiler inspections carried out on traction engines and the like. These processes were designed to assist inspectors and owners alike meet the spirit of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 (PSSR 2000). This was felt to be necessary by the Trust particularly as the hobby is held to operate mainly outside of the requirements of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 and consequently there was no other body that could legitimately police our hobby. Since the conclusion of this court case however, it has come to light that this 'freedom to adopt the spirit of PSSR 2000 rather than have it enforced' may be dissolving as the HSE is now thought to be reviewing its stance on 'hobby steam' in whatever guise it appears.

27 May 2010