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The Llangollen Rail­way is seek­ing to bring le­gal ac­tion against a hunt whose hounds swarmed onto the track dur­ing the op­er­a­tion of Santa trains on De­cem­ber 9, with at least one dog be­ing killed when the pack ran into the path of a train.

The in­ci­dent oc­curred on the sin­gle-line sec­tion be­tween Glyn­dyfrdwy and Dee­side Loop, as the 1.35pm Santa train from Llangollen, packed with fam­i­lies, was re­turn­ing from Car­rog be­hind GWR ‘2884’ 2-8-0 No. 3802.

Mem­bers of the hunt, which was still ap­par­ently ‘uniden­ti­fied’ more than a week af­ter the in­ci­dent, ar­rived on the scene to take away the body of the dog, giv­ing rise to in­ter­net re­ports that chil­dren on the train were “trau­ma­tised and cry­ing” at what they had wit­nessed.

Mak­ing it clear that no hunt had per­mis­sion to be on the track, LR Busi­ness Man­ager Liz McGuin­ness de­scribed the in­ci­dent as “highly re­gret­table.” The lo­co­mo­tive crew, she said, were badly shaken, and while sug­gest­ing that re­ports of chil­dren on the train cry­ing and suf­fer­ing from trauma were ex­ag­ger­ated, she ad­mit­ted that “an air of quiet” de­scended upon the train im­me­di­ately af­ter the in­ci­dent. The train ar­rived back at Llangollen some 25 min­utes late.

The LR an­nounced af­ter­wards that the rail­way’s man­age­ment would con­duct “a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion”, though this now ap­pears to have been taken over by North Wales Po­lice Ru­ral Crimes Unit, through in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer PC David Allen.

The rail­way is, how­ever, de­ter­mined to make an ex­am­ple of the hunt by bring­ing a pros­e­cu­tion to high­light its be­hav­iour.

Said Liz McGuin­ness: “There were a lot of dogs, but they were not un­der con­trol. The out­come could have been so much worse. We are live rail, and no dif­fer­ent to Net­work Rail in that when an­i­mals and peo­ple stray onto the track, it be­comes very dan­ger­ous. There could have been fa­tal­i­ties. We have to be seen to be do­ing some­thing other than just hop­ing it doesn’t hap­pen again. Peo­ple should wake up to the fact that they have to take greater re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

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