A government body has said closing part of a popular East Midlands tourist attraction was not an easy decision. The Crich Tramway Village near Matlock said it was closing until Friday May 20 due to a safety concern.
Parts of the museum were closed following an inspection by the Office of Rail and Road, which undertakes safety inspections on the rail network across the UK, but the museum then decided to voluntarily close the whole site, reports Derbyshire Live. The visit to ORR was planned and involved a discussion of repair work already planned to be carried out this year, museum staff said on Wednesday.
In a statement, an ORR spokesperson said the decision was made reluctantly but to ensure the safety of staff and visitors. In a statement on its website, the museum said the issue centered on its drop-off fan and urged visitors to check its website and social media channels for updates.
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A spokesperson said: “Following an inspection of a potentially serious matter at the Crich Tramway Museum, we have taken the decision to close off certain areas of the site to protect members of the public and staff working at the museum and ensure safety improvements are being made to its infrastructure. We know how much the tram is loved and we did not make this decision lightly, but did so with safety in mind.”
An anonymous whistleblower had previously alleged that the museum had prior knowledge of the security issues and was condemned following the ORR visit. However, Dr Mike Galer, the site’s chief executive, on Wednesday dismissed the whistleblower’s account and repeated that the entire site had closed of its own volition rather than being condemned by inspectors.
He said: “We take security seriously at the museum and have many systems in place to identify, track and resolve security issues. The infrastructure, as we call it, is the lane – called the ‘permanent lane’ professionally – overhead line and DC power switchgear is examined and serviced each winter during our shutdown period and more frequently as needed, and winter 2021-2022 was no different, with hundreds man-hours flown on the airline alone.
“This year, recognizing that there are certain areas where we need external professional assistance, we have engaged an accredited external company to undertake a professional assessment – this must be the report mentioned. A number of issues have been identified for correction in this report in 2022 and beyond, but we have been cleared to operate.
“The company involved visited the site on several occasions to assess and plan the investment and to design the timetable in order to solve the problems in the weeks and months to come. During a visit planned by the Office of Railways and Roads (ORR) – our regulator – this report has obviously been discussed.
“We have a duty to resolve the issues which have further been identified by the ORR as an urgent matter. We do not disagree with them.
“We weren’t required to close, but the areas of concern are in sensitive, high-traffic customer areas, so we’ve chosen, for simplicity, to temporarily close the entire site while we focus on resolving critical issues.”