Tram driver on Croydon crash line suspended for sleeping

A Croydon tram driver has been suspended for struggling to stay awake while on duty in April, just a few miles away from where the Sandilands tram derailed last week that killed seven people.

A video of the sleeping driver surfaced after it was sent to The Sun, who said that the footage was shot about three miles away from the recent incident in Sandilands.

First Group, who operate the tram network, have suspended the driver pending an investigation. The driver in the video is not the same one who crashed the tram last week.

A spokesperson told the BBC: “We have not seen this video before (we saw the footage for the first time when the Sun sent it last night) and it will now be subject to a full investigation.”

“If the situation is as it appears, then this is completely unacceptable and appropriate action will be taken.”

Still of The Sun's video. Face blurred for legal reasons.

Still of The Sun’s video. Face blurred for legal reasons.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said he was “extremely concerned” by the footage, which shows the driver drifting off to sleep as passengers are heard expressing shock, and the tram travels at high speed.

Croydon residents shared their thought on the footage on social media, where a debate has started discussing how the passengers should have acted rather than filming the sleeping driver.

In the meantime, the tram line has reopened ten days after the crash. There have been added restrictions and posters for passengers to report speeding or other concerns on the tram.

Following advice from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), TfL has introduced a further speed restriction approaching the bend in the section of track near Sandilands.

British Transport Police are also investigating an incident just over a week before the tragedy, after reports emerged on Facebook that a tram had entered the bend at high speeds, leaving passengers terrified.

Andy Nias from Croydon posted on Facebook on October 31: “30 of us on the tram this morning and we all thought our time was up. Tram driver took the hard corner to Sandilands at 40mph!! I swear the tram lifted onto one side. Everyone still shaking. It’s mad”.

Google image showing area where accident occurred. Pic: RAIB

Google image showing area where accident occurred. Pic: RAIB

An interim report released by the RAIB has revealed that the tram was travelling at 43.5mph, which is almost four times the speed limit of 12mph. The driver – a 42-year old man from Beckenham – was arrested for questioning but released on bail.

In memory of the incident, a minute’s silence was held at Crystal Palace vs Manchester City on Saturday, as two of the victims were fans of the local football club.

All seven victims have been officially identified by the British Transport Police as Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Donald Collett, 62, Philip Logan, 52, Robert Huxley, 63 and newly-engaged father Mark Smith.

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