A potential accident last week on the same bend as the fatal Croydon tram derailment which left passengers ‘shaking’ is being investigated after a complaint made at the time surfaced on social media.
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”.
British Transport Police said: “We are aware of a report made on social media which will now form one of our lines of enquiry.”
Wednesday’s tragedy killed seven and left over 50 injured after two carriages derailed. The 36-tonne tram was travelling at a “significantly higher speed” than the 12mph speed limit, according to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).
All seven victims have been officially identified by the BTP 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.
After a huge rescue effort, police and transport investigators finally cleared the site today, removing the two overturned carriages on to the back of lorries. They have called for the families to be given privacy and space to grieve.
All but three of those injured have now been released. On Thursday, St. Georges Hospital, in Tooting, said on thursday: “All three patients left theatre yesterday, and are continuing to be looked after by our surgical and medical teams.”
Trams on the route from New Addington to Wimbledon travel at around 50mph on the straight through Sandilands tunnel, then break sharply before the left-hand bend, but investigators suggest this did not happen on Wednesday morning.
If drivers take their hand off the brake controller an alarm would immediately sound and should the driver not respond within 3 seconds, the hazard brakes are applied automatically, but there is no automatic speed control system like those installed on trains.
The 42-year old tram driver, from Beckenham, has been released on bail until May.
Survivor Martin Bamford said that the driver had told him that he thought he had blacked out. Bamford, 30, described the tram “speeding up”, and said: “everyone just literally went flying.”
He told the Press Association: “It was like something out of a film … There was a woman that was on top of me … I don’t think she made it at all. She wasn’t responsive. There was blood everywhere.”
The Board will publish an interim report next week with an update on the investigation.
Credit: Harry Totham & Niels Mye