HSE conclusion for popular Hengistbury Head Land Train service

Posted on Thursday 28th November 2019

BCP Council is reviewing its options for the future of the Hengistbury Head Land Train following the conclusion of a year-long investigation by the Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

In October 2018, the traditional Hengistbury Head Land Train was suspended from service while under HSE investigation following an incident with one of the carriages. This investigation has now concluded with the HSE informing the council that the traditional trains would require extensive works to run them again, including fitting engine-controlled brakes to each carriage alongside several other safety improvements.

As a result, the council is investigating several other long-term sustainable options including the possible introduction of an environmentally friendly battery-run or hybrid land train to support its commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030. The council also feels it is important to reinstate a land train service befitting of the location and traditions of this world-renowned Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The council would not be permitted to run the old trains without complete redesign work to meet new Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) standards. Initial enquiries have indicated that to bring these 30-year-old trains up to the required standards would be both complex in engineering terms – and costly and therefore not financially viable.

In addition, independent legal advice on the status of the road to the sandspit has concluded that the road is considered public and as such, BCP Council would need to gain a Vehicle Special Order (VSO) to meet the public passenger carrying standards, with drivers requiring a Passenger Service Vehicle Licence (PSV). 

A BCP Council Spokesperson commented:

“The Hengistbury Head Land Train is a very popular service amongst both residents and visitors to the area. Over the last 50 years, generations of people have created fond memories of using this service, and although we are disappointed that we can no longer continue using the traditional train, we understand that modern operating standards require the highest levels of safety and as such, are looking forward to investigating alternative options to keep this popular attraction running.”

It is planned for the old trains to be offered for sale/auction, with proceeds being put towards the replacement trains.

The current service at Hengistbury Head will stop after Sunday 5 January for the current train to be taken away for its annual inspection and pre-season service, with the intention to bring a service back for the spring half term. The Land Rover service will still operate in January on a pre-booking only service, with three working days’ notice required for bookings - email here.

Train updates will be posted on the Hengistbury Head Land Train Facebook page.