Tram speed checked only once a month prior to fatal crash

Pic: Peter Trimming (CC by 2.0)

Speed checks only happened once a month prior to the fatal Croydon tram derailment that killed seven and injured 51 people last November.

An investigation by the Croydon Advertiser has found that monitoring the speed of the trams was only carried out every four weeks, and the results were not always reported back to Transport for London.

It was also discovered that 7,561 speed tests occurred between November 13 last year and June 24 2017. Out of those checks, trams were found to be running over the speed limit 128 times, with one travelling 5.6mph over the limit on the corner where the accident happened last year. 

A spokesperson for First Group, the company that run the trams, said that Tram Operations Limited (TOL) perform regular speed checks with radar guns.

They said: “Before November 2016, we undertook monthly radar gun checks at randomly chosen points on the network with a variation in locations, days and times in any given month. Since the tragic incident in November, we have undertaken enhanced speed monitoring at various locations across the tram network. TfL and TOL regularly meet to discuss safety issues including speed monitoring.”

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) analysed the on-tram data recorder and found that the tram was travelling at three-and-a-half times the speed limit when it crashed last year.

Rory O’Neill, TfL’s Director of Trams, said: “The safety of passengers is our number one priority. Monitoring of drivers’ performance and discipline is the sole responsibility of the operator.

“We have asked First Group to provide us with regular and detailed speed updates, as part of the robust measures we are implementing in response to the tragedy in Croydon.

“Our thoughts remain with all those affected by the derailment and the Sarah Hope Line continues to be available to them, providing help with counselling and other support.”

The driver of the vehicle, Alfred Dorris, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and is on bail.

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