Editor, UBM

November 16, 2016

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Croydon Tram Crash

Croydon tram was going ‘three times over the speed limit’

A tram that derailed in Croydon last week killing seven people was going three and half times over the speed limit, investigators into the incident have said.

An initial review from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) into the data recorder (OTDR) on the tram has shown the the tram was going approximately 43.5 mph on a curve which had a maximum permitted speed of 12.5 mph (20 km/h).

The report said that a reflective board indicates the 20 km/h speed restriction and is located about 30 metres ahead of where the derailment occurred.

The RAIB report looked at other key information involved in the derailment and found:

  • At the time of the accident it was dark and raining heavily
  • the tram has CCTV and an OTDR – an initial examination of the CCTV equipment suggests it was not working at the time of the crash
  • there is no requirement for advance warning of speed restrictions or for speed control systems to be fitted to trams
  • there was no indication of a malfunction of the braking system.

The RAIB has said that it is doing a survey of the track in the vicinity of the derailment and will review the findings in due course.

Safety advice

The RAIB has issued an urgent safety notice to Tram Operations Ltd and London Trams:

“The factors that led to the over-speeding are still under investigation. Until these factors are better understood, and before the junction re-opens to passenger operation, the RAIB advises London Trams and Tram Operations Ltd to jointly take measure to reduce the risk of trams approaching Sandilands Junction from the direction of New Addington at an excessive speed.

“Options for consideration should include the imposition of a further speed restriction before the start of the existing 20 km/h speed restriction around the curve and/or additional operational signs.”

Ongoing investigation

The ongoing investigation will consider:

  • the sequence of events before and during the accident;
  • events following the accident, including the emergency response and how passengers were evacuated from the tram;
  • the way in which the tram was being driven and any influencing factors;
  • the design, configuration and condition of the infrastructure on this section of the route, including signage;
  • the tram’s behaviour during the derailment and how people sustained their injuries;
  • any previous over-speeding incidents at Sandilands Junction, and;
  • any relevant underlying management factors.

The RAIB investigation is intended to improve safety by preventing future railway and tramway accidents, it is not the purpose to establish blame or liability.

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