Tom Cross and Raphael Hogarth act for ‘Hogwarts Express’ train company in judicial review of regulator


The High Court (Thornton J) has today handed down judgment in R (West Coast Railway Company Ltd) v Office of Rail and Road [2023] EWHC 3338 (Admin). The judgment will be of interest to practitioners advising commercial entities on challenges to regulatory decisions.

The West Coast Railway Company (“WCRC”) is the largest operator of heritage train tours in the United Kingdom. Its services include the well-known Jacobite Steam Train, which is sometimes known as the ‘Hogwarts Express’, having featured in the Harry Potter films.

WCRC applied to the Office of Rail and Road (“ORR”) for a certificate confirming that it could continue to run its trains using a system of ‘secondary door locking’ (whereby each door is locked by staff with a sliding bolt), rather than installing ‘central door locking’ (a system whereby all doors are locked simultaneously from a single control point). The ORR refused the application. WCRC claimed for judicial review of that refusal, on domestic public law grounds and on the basis of Article 1, Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights. Thornton J dismissed the claim.

The case has been covered in the media, including by the BBC, the Telegraph, CityAM and the Daily Mail.

Tom Cross and Raphael Hogarth acted for WCRC, instructed by DLA Piper.