Coroner urges reassessment on automatic tram brakes

Sarah Ormond-Walshe, South London senior coroner, who presided over the inquest into the traffic deaths of seven people after a London Tramlink tram left the rails at Sandilands in November 2016, has called on the government to reassess the need for trams to be fitted with automatic braking systems as part of her published findings.

The inquest jury ruled that the deaths were an accident in a decision which was met by anger by the families of the deceased with it being revealed in the aftermath that Ms Ormond-Walshe had not called on some key witnesses including senior managers of operator Tram Operations Limited and also from Transport for London. There remain calls for a second inquest to allow this evidence to be heard.

In her Prevention of Future Deaths Report, Ms Ormond-Walshe recommends:

  • For the government to reassess whether automatic braking systems should be introduced on trams
  • Tram doors should be strengthened
  • A nationally funded tram safety passenger group should be set-up
  • An anonymous reporting system should be created across all tram operators to allow staff to raise health, safety and wellbeing concerns

The report has been presented to the Department for Transport and the Light Rail Safety Standards Board.

A spokesperson from the DfT said: “Our thoughts remain with families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy. We welcome the coroner’s findings and will carefully consider its recommendations. Since 2019, we have provided more than £3m to the Light Rail Safety Standards Board to help prevent such tragedies.”

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