Delay in inquest ‘awful’ for Croydon tram bereaved, says MP

At the scene of the tram crash four years ago. Pic: Rail Accident Investigation Branch

The delay in holding an inquest into the tragic Croydon tram crash was ‘frustrating and awful’ for the families of the dead and injured, Sarah Jones, MP for Croydon Central, has told Eastlondonlines

The recent delay of the inquest has been another blow to bereaved families. It was scheduled to take place on 19 October this year but has been delayed until next Spring due to Covid-19.

“It’s incredibly frustrating and awful for the families that the inquest hasn’t happened” said Jones in an interview with Eastlondonlines. “Of course, we understand why it’s being delayed, but it was a long time coming in the first place.”

“The crash has really scarred the community,” said Jones. Like many in Croydon, she associates the accident with the 2016 US Presidential election and this year’s current election has brought up painful memories.

MP for Croydon Central Sarah Jones. Pic: Chris McAndrew

The accident, on November 9 2016, in which seven people died and several were injured, saw the tram derail and overturn after approaching a sharp bend at nearly four times the speed limit.

Transport for London has since implemented new safety measures for the Croydon tram network, but they have not been rolled out nationwide. Jones said: “What we now need to do is put those safety measures in place across the other tram networks throughout the country.”

Although a report carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch attributed the accident to driver error, charges of manslaughter and gross negligence were dropped against the driver, Alfred Dorris.

Jones explained that “There’s a loophole in the law that means the driver could’ve been charged for breaking health and safety laws or manslaughter, but death by dangerous driving just doesn’t legally exist as an option on a tram that’s off-road.”

The affected families have been campaigning for new legislation to close this loophole, and ensure that there are specific safety laws for trams going forward.

Jones has been working to support the families campaigning for this change and thinks that, going further, changes should also be made to the charges that can be brought against corporations in similar situations.

For now, it is a waiting game while the pandemic continues. Jones said: “Clearly the families want the inquest, they want some answers, they want some form of closure and it’s just deeply sad for them that they haven’t got that yet.”

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