Croydon crash tram was going 43.5mph in an area with a 12.5mph speed limit

 
Rebecca Smith
Croydon Tram Overturns In A Tunnel During Rush Hour
Seven people lost their lives in the Croydon crash (Source: Getty)

An initial investigation into the Croydon tram crash on 9 November has revealed the tram was being driven over three times the permitted speed when it crashed.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch's (RAIB) initial report has confirmed initial indications that "the tram was travelling at significantly higher speed than is permitted". On the section involved, there was a speed limit of 20km/h (12.5mph).

Seven people lost their lives and 51 others were injured when a tram derailed near Sandilands Junction on the London Tramlink system.

Read more: Aslef wants trams back under TfL control after Croydon tram crash

At this stage, no evidence has been found of track defects or obstructions on the track that could have contributed to the derailment. While detailed examination of the tram is yet to take place, the initial investigation hasn't flagged up any malfunction of the tram's braking system.

Initial analysis suggested some braking was applied in the lead up to the 12.5mph speed restriction board, but only enough to reduce the tram's speed from 50mph to around 43.5mph by the time it entered the curve on which the incident occurred.

TfL said services would resume once a rigorous assurance process has been completed
TfL said services would resume once a rigorous assurance process has been completed (Source: Getty)

It is understood part of the ongoing investigation will look into whether the driver was asleep or lost consciousness. He was arrested on the day the accident took place on suspicion of manslaughter and later bailed until next May.

Chief inspector of rail accidents, Simon French, said the RAIB would be in contact with those who were injured and bereaved families to keep them updated throughout the investigation.

"We have issued urgent safety advice to reduce the risk of trams approaching Sandilands Junction at excessive speed," he said.

Our ongoing detailed investigation will now look at the wider context of the accident, including the sequence of events, the way the tram was driven, the infrastructure and how people received their injuries.

We will also be looking into previous occurrences of over-speeding in this area and underlying management issues.

Transport for London's (TfL) London transport commissioner Mike Brown said: "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."

TfL is continuing to carry out a thorough safety assessment and will only resume services "once that rigorous assurance process has been completed".

The more thorough investigations are expected to take many months, though Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell has said if any urgent safety learnings crop up during the process, they will be announced.

Read more: TfL offers to pay for the funerals of Croydon tram crash victims

Earlier today, the London Assembly remembered those lost in the incident and paid tribute to the emergency services. It also approved an urgent unanimous motion to help with investigations into the derailment.

The Assembly has offered to contribute to the RAIB investigation, or launch its own to look at the wider impact on Croydon and London as a whole.

Steve O'Connell, who seconded the motion, said: "It is vital to restore public confidence in the safety of trams and we can only do that with a thorough investigation into the causes of this terrible incident."

TfL has also offered to pay for the funerals of the victims and cover travel expenses for relatives.

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