Two memorials dedicated to the victims of the Croydon tram derailment were unveiled on the first anniversary of the tragedy.
Seven people died and 58 were injured when the commuter tram overturned on a bend near Sandilands in Addiscombe on November 9 last year. It was the worst tram disaster in the UK since the Dover crash of 1917.
A ceremony to remember the victims of the crash was held on Thursday at Market Square on Central Parade. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones, and Croydon Council leader Tony Newman delivered speeches. Flowers and written tributes were laid at the site and a choir of 60 local schoolchildren sang a version of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know.
A minute’s silence was also observed outside the Town Hall on Katherine Street.
Taiye Ajbiola, who was injured in the crash, said that he was still dealing with the trauma of the event a year on. Ajbiola told the BBC: “Two or three days before today I’ve been having a lot of flashbacks. This morning it was like I was on the tram again.”
Matthew Parnell, 44, suffered a brain injury in the crash. He told the Evening Standard: “The anniversary is a difficult time as it is a reminder of the cause of loss to so many people. For my own part, the accident has changed my life.”
Following the memorial service, a commemorative stone plinth and a new communal area were unveiled near the site of the crash at Sandilands Junction and in New Addington, which are both close to many of the victims’ homes.
A separate private memorial service was held in Sandilands earlier in the day, attended by the families of those who died, members of the emergency services, and local politicians.
Speaking at the public ceremony, Khan said: “Our public transport system should be a place where people are always safe.
“I’ve demanded reassurances from Transport for London and First Group that changes have been made to the network and I’ll ensure that lessons are learnt and acted upon. We owe this to the victims, the families and to all Londoners.”
The seven people who lost their lives in the derailment were Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Logan, 52, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, Mark Smith, 35, and Donald Collett, 62.
The tram derailed and slid 25 metres last year after cornering a sharp bend. An interim report by the Rail Accident Investigation Bureau (RAIB) found that it was travelling at 46mph in a 12mph zone. The report suggested that the driver, Alfred Dorris, had “lost awareness” while in control of the vehicle. Operator Tramtrack Croydon Ltd later admitted liability for the incident.
Trevor Stirling, a lawyer representing the victims of the tragedy, has called on authorities to make their conclusions “as swiftly as possible”.
He said: “This is a difficult time for the victims and their families, who continue to wait for the police and RAIB to conclude their investigations into the cause of the incident. We hope to see sensible dialogue amongst the relevant parties so that clear timelines can be produced on when changes to safety regulations will be made.”
A final police report is expected to be published by the end of this year.