Tram safety

MQT on 2018-11-22
Session date: 
November 22, 2018
Question By: 
Steve O'Connell
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What progress has been made to implement the recommendations of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch report on the 2016 tram crash at Sandilands?


Tram safety

Tram safety

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Chairman, can I thank the local Assembly Member, Assembly Member O’Connell, for his timely question?  The second anniversary of the tragedy at Sandilands was just under two weeks ago on 9 November [2018] and I know all our thoughts remain with those who were affected by this tragic event.  Seven people lost their lives and 62 were injured.  Even though two years have now passed, the pain for the families, friends and the close-knit local community is still raw.  We owe it to the victims, the families and to Londoners to ensure the lessons are learned and acted upon.


Transport for London (TfL) is making progress in implementing the recommendations to make the network safer, which were set out by the Rail Accident Investigations Branch.  It is also working closely with the Office for Rail and Road (ORR) and the wider UK tram industry to help make this happen.


Many of the most important recommendations have already been met and completed.  These include the installation of a device that detects and prevents driver fatigue, which has now been in operation since October 2017, speed reductions, and enhanced signage around bends.  TfL has also worked with its tram operator, First Group, to improve its complaints procedure to ensure that prompt action is always taken when a possible safety risk is identified.  TfL is about to start work on strengthening the window glazing on London’s trams, with the work on the whole fleet expected to be complete by March 2019.  Contracts will be let for the automatic braking system and emergency lighting upgrade by the end of this year [2018].


Some of the recommendations are complex and have required a high level of innovative design, testing and procurement.  For example, the automatic braking system will be the first within the UK tram industry.  It will mean that a tram can be slowed or brought to a controlled stop if it is travelling in excess of the speed limit at key locations on the network.  TfL plans to have this system implemented by December 2019.


These new systems and technology that TfL is introducing are a first within the UK tram industry and world-leading in terms of safety for this type of tram network.  A number of recommendations in the report are for the wider UK tram industry and are dependent on the Light Rail Safety Standards Board, which is in the process of being set up.  I have ensured that TfL is providing its full support to the delivery of these industry-wide recommendations.


TfL has provided an update to the ORR on the progress of the recommendations it is responsible for and is waiting for feedback regarding the work done so far, as well as the work that is still underway.  TfL officials are meeting the ORR this month [November 2018] to give further updates.


I would like to end by saying, Chairman, that I have asked the Commissioner of TfL [Mike Brown MVO] to ensure that TfL takes an active leadership role in all of the recommendations so that all networks across the country can learn from the tragic lessons of Croydon.


Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Yes, indeed, this is a timely exchange around this tragic incident.  Only two Fridays ago, it was the second anniversary, as you have commented on, and it is still very painful to the community, particularly the very close-knit New Addington community.


I thank you for your full update.  That gives us some reassurance, but two years after the event and indeed one year after the report, which was published in December of last year [2017], half of the recommendations are yet to be delivered.  Some, I accept, are outside the direct control of TfL.  I thank you for your update on the individual items that I wanted to talk about.


Specifically, on strengthening the windows, the emergency lighting and the automatic speed controls, these were three particular recommendations that have not been implemented.  You detailed them all in your response, but can I have your commitment that all of the recommendations within your control will be delivered by March 2019?  Am I correct in understanding that?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, without repeating the answer ‑‑


Steve O’Connell AM:  No, I do not want you to do that.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ some of the work will not happen until December 2019.  The procurement is happening now and so it depends on that.  One of the answers I gave referred to December 2019, but I am happy to set out each of the things and when they will happen in a letter to you.


You are right to chivvy at TfL to make sure those that are in our gift and are just for Croydon trams happen as soon as possible.  For those that are clearly for the wider UK tram industry, we will chivvy them to make sure those happen as soon as possible as well.


Steve O’Connell AM:  The people of Croydon, New Addington and Sandilands would feel that it is unacceptable that it has taken so long after the recommendations in the report to implement the specific recommendations.  Would you agree that the delay has been too long, Mr Mayor?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I would agree that any delay is too long, but some of this is not in the gift of TfL.  It is the UK tram operators.  Some of it is world-leading stuff in relation to automatic braking.  How do you strengthen the windows but at the same time allow them to be accessible when a tram is on its side?  This is new stuff that the industry is working on, but TfL has been pushing at all times in relation to the industry and has been learning lessons from around the country.  I am hopeful that that will not only lead to an improvement in relation to safety in Croydon, which it must, but also lead to improvements in relation to trams across the country as well.


Steve O’Connell AM:  That is the point because we do not want this awful incident to be replicated anywhere else in the country.  I look forward to you writing to me, Mr Mayor, with the details around that and also what you will be doing, in your words, to chivvy at organisations that are not directly under your remit.  I look forward to that.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, that is very fair.


Steve O’Connell AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.