Automatic tram braking system to be introduced on Tramlink in 2019

Transport for London have confirmed that all trams on the London Tramlink will be fully fitted with an automatic braking system by the end of this year – a first for UK tramways which also means that all RAIB recommendations into the Sandilands derailment are now either in progress or already been completed. Engineering Support Group Limited (ESG) were awarded the contract to install the new safety system on 14th December 2018 and they will now work to make sure it is all in place by the end of this year.

The system will automatically apply the brakes and bring the tram to a controlled stop if it is exceeding the speed limit at certain designated locations. This system will work alongside the driver protection device that has been in operation since September 2017 which alerts when drivers shown any signs of distraction and fatigue.

The RAIB report into the derailment listed 15 recommendations aimed at the UK tram industry and automatic braking was one of these. It will initially be configured to priority high-risk locations as suggested by the RAIB but will have the flexibility to be introduced elsewhere on the tram network in the future.

Of the other recommendations all are now either in progress or have already been completed. This has included a permanent speed reduction across the network, speed monitoring and signage at significant bends, an enhanced customer complaints process and the installation of a driver protection device that alerts to driver distraction and fatigue. A new emergency lighting system, which will operate independently of the tram’s battery in the event of an emergency, is also due to be installed over the summer. In addition a new higher specification film over the windows is to be fitted to all doors and windows to improve containment with this due to be completed by the spring.

Mark Davis, TfL General Manager of London Trams, said: “We will never forget the tragedy at Sandilands and from day one have focused our attention on preventing this type of incident from ever happening again. Awarding the contract for a new automatic braking system is a first for trams in the UK, and not only will it improve safety for customers in London, but we hope it will lead the way for other tram operators across the country. We will work to have the new system, which will automatically apply the brakes if a tram is exceeding the speed limit, in full operation by the end of the year.”

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