Tragedy strikes as teenager dies after being struck by tram on NET

A teenage girl has died after being hit by a tram near Hucknall on a non-automatic gated crossing. The incident happened at approximately 1900 on Wednesday 28th November 2012 and according to initial reports in the local press she crossed the tracks along with some of her friends at the time of the collision.

The crossing has large “Tramway Look Both Ways” signs warning pedestrians but is not fitted with any lights or automatic barriers and as such relies on users to check before crossing. This is a fairly standard crossing across the UK’s light rail systems and is located at the junction of Hucknall Lane and Nottingham Road.

As a result of the incident tram services were suspended between Moor Bridge and Hucknall with two bus replacement services in operation instead. Normal services were resumed before the end of service once the accident investigators had finished at the scene.

The girl was initially taken to hospital with serious injuries but sadly her injuries were too severe and she died later. The driver of the tram was also treated for shock.

Neil Wood, NET General Manager, commented: “First and foremost we need to stress that our thoughts and sympathy are with the teenager’s family at this time. We have launched our own internal inquiry into the incident and, of course, are co-operating fully with both the Police Crash Investigation Team and the rail accident investigation branch.”

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7 Responses to Tragedy strikes as teenager dies after being struck by tram on NET

  1. John Stewart says:

    The direct cause of the accident was that the unfortunate young lady didn’t look, but there are peculiarities of this site which can catch out the slightly unwary. Trams mix happilly with pedestrians on most parts of the network but reserved track shared with heavy rail is different. At first glance it is a double track railway and there is almost a subconscious awareness that, in Britain, trains keep left like cars on the road so people act accordingly. A closer look reveals overhead above one track because the westerly track is a two-way tram track carrying NET services to Hucknall whilst the easterly track is a NR line carrying DMU services to Mansfield.

    Therefore “rail” vehicles can travel in either direction on either track with no correlation between movements on each. If one arrives at the crossing and sees a vehicle pass from right to left on the nearer track, it is too easy to forget that another one may be about to pass right to left on the further track and the “look both ways” sign can’t be relied on to alert everyone.

    Apart from a bridge, one possible solution might be to see if the tram track can be slewed westward sufficiently to have a dog-leg crossing with a fenced compound (say 1m x 3m) between tracks where additional more pointed signage could be provided. If pedestrians had to judge the safety of crossing just one track at a time with the fenced dog-leg being a reminder that they were now approaching something different, matters would be much improved. We all know that crossing the road where there is a central refuge is safer and more comfortable.

  2. David Holt says:

    The same conditions apply at Navigation Road and Deansgate Lane level crossings on Metrolink’s Altrincham line. What looks at a glance like an ordinary double-track railway is in fact two single tracks, one being tram bidirectional and the other train bidirectional. Both crossings are fully barriered, and are under CCTV or direct observation at all times, under the control of Network Rail’s Deansgate Junction signal box, manned 24/7.
    There have been incidents, such as a pedestrian leaving the pub on Deansgate Lane and getting trapped between the gates. An animated conversation with the adjacent signaller took place, and the pedestrian was released unharmed. On another occasion, a woman trapped on the tracks in her car avoided disaster by rapidly multi-point turning her car until it was parallel with the tracks and hard up against one of the barriers to let a tram skim past without contact.

    • Ken walker says:

      There are also problems with passengers crossing the lines at Navigation Road station when the barriers are down. But of course when one of them gets knocked down it will automatically be Metrolink or Network Rail to blame

      • David Holt says:

        The other thing I should have said is that the risk of an incident increases with the frequency of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, so that there is more chance of conflict with frequent trams than with infrequent trains. Another relevant factor is that trams welcome on board mobility-handicapped and elderly people who may have to travel standing – so full emergency stops can cause mayhem inside the vehicle.

  3. Phillip Fogg says:

    Lets not overthink the problem the onus is on each of us to take care and be aware of things around us and if we do not take care and something happens we have only ourselves to blame and lets spare a thought for the tram driver who will have knightmares about this for some time to come

  4. John Stewart says:

    I apologise to “TM”; I had assumed that the layout was as another vehicular crossing on this line.

    Following the 2008 double fatality an exhaustive investigation was conducted by the RAIB. I have read it and what was clear was that there were considerable risks from crossing the railway (not the tramway) as it was set out at that time. Subsequently the railway side of the crossing was altered to reduce risks associated with its layout. A very brief summary of the findings is that the lady concerned was probably distracted by the passage of a brightly-lit tram causing noise and visual distraction and that she didn’t appreciate that a train was approaching on the track nearer to her just a few seconds behind.

    All of which makes it puzzling that this time it should be a tram that was not seen. It is difficult to see anything other than the girl’s inattention as the direct cause. The report referred to above includes a survey of daily usage and it would hardly be reasonable to deprive all those people of the convenience of this route, as has been called for locally. Despite this, we have to recognise that every level crossing can be a danger through misuse, inattention or mechanical failure. The very rare examples of parallel tram and railway lines, each single track, poses special problems for people’s perception of how to conduct themselves. A long-term programme of replacement by grade separation should be undertaken wherever possible.”

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