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Interim Report into Sandilands Tram Crash
16/11/2016 11:54:00

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch have today released their interim report into the tragic tram crash at Sandilands last Wednesday. A number of key pieces of information have come out as result.

In the Summary it states:

‘The Rail Accident Investigation Branch’s (RAIB) initial review of the on-tram data recorder (OTDR) shows that the tram was travelling at a speed of approximately 70 km/h (43.5 mph) as it entered the curve, which had a maximum permitted speed of 20 km/h (12.5 mph).’

More detailed information regarding the tram itself has come out saying:

‘The tram was equipped with forward facing and internal closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras and an OTDR. The OTDR records key parameters such as the vehicle speed and the driver’s operation of power and brake controls.’

Crucially however, an initial examination of the tram’s CCTV equipment suggests that it was not working at the time of the accident.

Investigations into the condition of the track have shown that:

‘At this stage, no evidence has been found of any track defects, or obstructions on the track, that could have contributed to the derailment.’

Information taken from the On Tram Data Recorder (OTDR) has revealed:

‘Initial analysis of the tram’s OTDR indicates that some braking was applied in the 180 metres before the 20 km/h speed restriction board, but this was only sufficient to reduce the tram’s speed from 80 km/h (50 mph) to approximately 70 km/h (43.5 mph) by the time the tram passed the board and entered the curve on which the accident occurred.’

It also states that:

‘The RAIB’s initial investigation has not indicated any malfunction of the tram’s braking system.’

The report makes the following statement under Urgent Safety Advice

In the light of this accident, the RAIB has issued the following urgent safety advice to Tram Operations Ltd and London Trams:

‘The factors that led to the over-speeding are still under investigation. Until these factors are better understood, and before the junction re-opens to passenger operation, the RAIB advises London Trams and Tram Operations Ltd to jointly take measures to reduce the risk of trams approaching Sandilands Junction from the direction of New Addington at an excessive speed. Options for consideration should include the imposition of a further speed restriction before the start of the existing 20 km/h speed restriction around the curve and/or additional operational signs.’

Mike Brown, London's transport commissioner has responded to the recommendation saying:

"We will follow the RAIB's advice and, before service is resumed, will implement additional temporary speed restrictions and associated signage near Sandilands to supplement existing safety arrangements.

"We are continuing to carry out a thorough safety assessment and are taking the advice of an independent panel of tram experts.

"We will only resume services for the local community once that rigorous assurance process has been completed."

The report also details the future scope of their work:

‘The RAIB’s ongoing investigation will include consideration of:

the sequence of events before and during the accident;

events following the accident, including the emergency response and how passengers evacuated from the tram;

the way in which the tram was being driven and any influencing factors;

the design, configuration and condition of the infrastructure on this section of the route, including signage;

the tram’s behaviour during the derailment and how people sustained their injuries;

any previous over-speeding incidents at Sandilands Junction; and

any relevant underlying management factors.’

I welcome this first stage of the investigation and endorse the recommendations made and am particularly pleased that Mike Brown has already responded stating that the additional restrictions and signage will be in place prior to any resumption of service. It is of paramount importance that safety lessons are learned and implemented fully.

The full report can be accessed via this link:


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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG