Train authorities, including the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), have played down fears that a ban on transporting firearms by rail is being considered. A recent report in the sporting press, headlined No more guns on rail?, said that not only was the ORR considering a complete ban on transporting unloaded firearms by rail, but there were also no plans for a public consultation.

The report encouraged shooters to contact the independent watchdog Passenger Focus to make their views on the matter heard.

However, a spokesman for ORR said: ?We?re not sure where this story came from, but it wasn?t proposed by the Office of Rail Regulation.?

He agreed there had been a recent review of the conditions of carriage, but said this had been undertaken by the Department for Transport.

ATOC was equally mystified when presented with the alleged prospect.

A spokesman said: ?It is something that has come up, but it?s not an issue that is being looked at seriously at the moment. It?s really not something we?re giving an awful lot of consideration to.?

Currently, the conditions of carriage do not permit the transportation of loaded guns under any circumstances, but the rules regarding unloaded guns may be subject to individual Train Company dispensation.

One train company spokesman said, as far as he was aware: ?There was nothing in law which prevents legitimate owners of firearms carrying their firearms in a suitable manner.?

When asked about the alleged lack of a public consultation on the matter, Passenger Focus said: ?Over the past nine months, the railway industry has been reviewing the conditions of carriage. It?s not a public consultation, but once they have a draft, that draft will come to us for Passenger Focus?s views. We?ve had nothing to do with it at all yet, so we?ve no idea what?s included.?