One week after the tragic derailment at Sandilands junction the Rail Accident Investigation Branch have released an interim report into the incident. Initial indications had suggested that the derailment had been caused by the excessive speed the tram was travelling at and this has been confirmed by this interim report with the on-tram data recorded (OTDR) showing that 2551 was travelling at a speed of approximately 70kmh (43.5mph) – more than three times the speed limit on the curve.
2551 derailed on the curve approaching Sandilands junction from the New Addington branch at approximately 70kmh; the line speed at this location is 20kmh. Trams are able to travel at up to 80kmh on the approach to the curve and in order to reduce speed sufficiently would need to apply the brake 180 metres before reaching this location. In this case although some braking was applied within this 180 metres it was only sufficient to reduce the speed by 10kmh.
The investigation remains at an early stage but initial investigations have not shown any fault with the tram (which has been moved for the RAIB to conduct further investigations) nor the track. No evidence has been found of there being any obstructions on the track.
The report confirms that 2551 derailed on the curve and turned over onto its right side. It then travelled for approximately 25 metres being coming to a stand. The right hand side of the tram is said to have suffered severe damage.
Whilst the investigation takes place the RAIB have issued urgent safety advice to London Tramlink – both Tram Operations Ltd and London Trams. The advice states: “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 kmh speed restriction around the curve and/or additional operational signs.”
The seven people who died in the derailment have now been confirmed as Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Logan, 52, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, Mark Smith, 35 and Donald Collett, 62.
In response to the release of the RAIB report Transport for London have confirmed that they will be following the advice of the report. Mike Brown, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by what happened last Wednesday, and we are working with the local community to ensure that they continue to receive all the support they need at this incredibly difficult time. I thank the RAIB for their thorough and swift interim investigation. Our engineers have now repaired all track and other equipment and have run trams over the repaired section. 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 full RAIB interim report can be downloaded at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/569620/IR012016_161116_Sandilands_Jn.pdf