Latest RAIB reports into Tramlink derailment released

As the Rail Accident Investigation Branch continue their investigation into the tragic derailment at Sandilands on 9th November 2016 they have released their latest update. This time the update includes some draft recommendations to allow both Tram Operations Limited (operator of Tramlink) and other tram companies in the UK to start to implement them before the final report is released later this year.

The draft safety recommendations have recently been discussed with the families of those who died in the accident, the organisations involved and the safety authority. These discussions have also included the reasons for making the recommendations.

The key recommendations likely to form part of the final report are:

* provision of active tram protection to prevent serious accidents due to excessive speed at high risk locations

* research into active means of detecting the attention state of drivers and intervening in the event of inattention

* improved containment of passengers by tram windows and doors

* setting up of an industry body to facilitate more effective cooperation between UK tramway owners and operators on matters related to safety performance and the development of common standards

The RAIB have written to Transport for London, Tram Operations Limited and UK Tram with details of these expected recommendations so that they can start to consider which action they may need to take. This letter has also been copied to other UK tram operators.

The final report is also likely to highlight the importance of ensuring the availability of in-tram CCTV systems and any actions already taken to address this issue. A recommendation may also be made in this area. Other areas within the scope of the investigation – including the consideration of underlying safety management and regulatory factors – may also lead to recommendations.

The RAIB have said that they are “encouraged to learn that some tramway organisations have already started work in a number of these areas”.

In response to this update Mike Brown MVO, London;s Transport Commissioner said: “Our thoughts remain with all those affected by the tragic tram derailment and we continue to do all we can to offer our support. Since the incident we have introduced a number of additional safety measures to the tram network, including additional speed restrictions, enhanced speed monitoring, new signage for drivers and an upgrade of the CCTV recording system. An in-cab vigilance system is being trialed and should be fitted to all trams by the autumn. Any sign of driver distraction or fatigue will result in the driver being alerted immediately. Work on an alert system for monitoring and managing tram speed is underway. We continue to work with the wider tram industry on these improvements and will consider any further measures that could be introduced to improve safety. We also continue to work with the RAIB and will take on board all recommendations from this and the other investigations that are underway.”

Amongst the changes already made on Tramlink the maximum speed across the network will be reduced to 70kph (from 80kph) by the end of September. This in addition to speed restrictions at Sandilands and three other similar locations where enhanced chevron signs have also been installed.

It is hoped that the full report will be released within a year of the accident taking place although this is subject to a formal consultation before its release.

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