The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) announced today it was prosecuting Transport for London (TfL) and Tram Operations Limited (TOL) over their involvement in the 2016 Croydon tram derailment.
The railway regulator said its prosecution will allege both TfL and Tram Operations Limited (TOL) breached health and safety law, as they failed to ensure passengers’ safety aboard the network. Driver Alfred Dorris will also face criminal charges.
“Following a detailed and thorough investigation, we’ve taken the decision to prosecute Transport for London, Tram Operations Limited and driver Alfred Dorris for what we believe to be health and safety failings,” said ORR’s chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser.
“We’ve made a fair, independent and objective assessment about what happened, and it is now for the court to consider if any health and safety law has been breached.”
A TfL spokesperson said the body will consider the proceedings once it receives them.
Seven passengers were killed and 51 injured on 9 November 2016 when a tram toppled over and spun off tracks after hitting a curve at 33mph faster than the limit.
Driver Alfred Dorris was arrested at the scene but in July a jury ruled out the crash as an accident after the coroner did not summon representatives from either TfL and TOL to give evidence, City A.M. reported.
Coroner Sarah Ormond-Walshe relied instead on evidence from the Rail Accident Investigation Board, which said Dorris had a “microsleep” which caused to be disoriented before the curve.
But as official documents seen exclusively by City A.M. showed, TfL had been told about driver fatigue on the tram network more than two years before the crash.
Fatigue management was highlighted by an independent audit of Croydon Tramlink as one the “seven weaknesses” the network had in terms of safety management.
But even though TfL made note of this in its own report that same month, it gave the network the highest rating possible.
Commenting on the decision, Ben Posford, the families’ lead solicitor said: ““This comes as welcome news for the families of the victims of the Croydon tram crash who have been fighting for years for justice.
“Their hopes of a criminal prosecution and an unlawful killing conclusion at the inquest were dashed, so I hope they can get some solace from this latest bid to prosecute Tfl, ToL and Mr Dorris.”