Tram driver released on bail as crash investigation continues

The tram crash in Sandilands has left the community shocked and numb

The tram crash in Sandilands has left the community shocked and numb

Dane Chinnery is the first of the seven passengers who died in yesterday’s Sandilands tram derailment to have been named.

Dane Chinnery

Dane Chinnery

Chinnery was 19.

He was identified by friends paying tribute to him on social media, where the Crystal Palace fan was described as “an amazing happy outgoing person”.

Two other deaths, in addition to the five confirmed during Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s site visit in the afternoon, were announced last night. No other names have been released.

Crystal Palace Football Club issued a statement to express their sympathy for Chinnery’s family and all those affected by the tram crash. “Everyone at Crystal Palace Football Club was shocked and saddened to hear about the tragic tram accident on Wednesday morning,” it said.

“The chairman, manager, players and staff would like to offer their sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives… We understand that at least one of the victims, 19-year-old Dane Chinnery, was a Palace fan. 

“Our prayers are with his family and with all the friends and relatives of those victims that have been affected. The club wishes a full and speedy recovery to the many people who suffered injuries. 

“This was a terrible event in the heart of Croydon and we stand with the community at this difficult time.”

Most of the other 51 passengers who were hospitalised yesterday morning were released after treatment for a variety of cuts and broken bones, while eight people who had suffered life-threatening or life-changing injuries were being treated overnight, some of them at St George’s major trauma unit in Tooting.

The tram driver, a 42-year-old man from Beckenham, arrested by British Transport Police on suspicion of manslaughter, has been released on police bail until May.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch arrived on the scene yesterday afternoon, and their forensic examination of the site continues today. The tram is expected to be removed from the crash site later today, with Mike Brown, London’s transport commissioner, suggesting that services across the network due to resume at the weekend.

The emergency scene near the tram crash yesterday morning

The emergency scene soon after the tram crash

The crash occurred on a traffic-free stretch of track where trams travelling on the New Addington to Wimbledon line travel quickly through a tunnel from Lloyd Park.

The route then takes a 90-degree turn before trams arrive at Sandilands tram stop before heading on towards East Croydon.

As Inside Croydon reported yesterday, a former senior council engineer who worked on building the Tramlink network in the late 1990s, described this stretch of track as “just about the worst location on the system for an incident”.

RAIB’s initial findings said that the tram derailed as it was negotiating a “sharp, left-hand curve” which has a speed limit of 12mph. The RAIB said the tram had been travelling at a “significantly higher speed”.

At least one victim of the crash has said that they spoke to the driver in the immediate aftermath, and the driver had said that he may have blacked out.

Croydon resident Martin Bamford told the BBC that he had felt the tram “speeding up”, and that, “Everyone just literally went flying”.

Emergency crews arrived at Sandilands for access down the tracks to the crash scene

Bamford said that after it came off the rails, the tram seemed to slide along on its side for three or four seconds. He said people were screaming and there was “blood everywhere”.

After being discharged from Mayday Hospital with bruising and broken ribs, Bamford said, “It was just terrifying.

“There was a woman that was on top of me … I don’t think she made it at all. She wasn’t responsive. There was blood everywhere.”

The crash, on a tram crowded with people travelling to work, happened just after 6am on Wednesday morning.

The Tramlink network had a very good safety record before yesterday’s tragedy. In 2008, when a bus crashed into a tram on George Street, a bus passenger was killed. Yesterday was the first fatal accident involving tram passengers since the network opened in 2000.

Last year, trams carried 29 million passengers on what is regarded as a very safe form of urban transportation.

Indeed, Sandilands is believed to be the first tram crash in Britain involving fatalities on board since 1959, when two women passengers and the driver died after a tram caught fire in Glasgow following a collision with a lorry.

The Sandilands derailment has highlighted the lack of any automated speed inhibitors or a version of the train driver’s safety handle on Croydon’s trams.

Christian Wolmar: transport expert has battled his way on to Labour's shortlist

Christian Wolmar: Croydon’s trams are usually safe

Christian Wolmar is a world-acknowledged expert on transport, and an author of several books on trams and railways.

Today, he told Inside Croydon, “The accident was very likely caused by the tram speeding. The key question is: ‘Why?’

“The curve at Sandilands comes off the old railway line to Selsdon, it’s dead straight with a couple of tunnels, one of which is relatively close to the curve. So you come out of the tunnel nearly at the junction with a line speed of 50mph which then goes down to 12mph – clearly the driver did not slow down.

“On the national railway, there would have been some kind of automatic device to slow the tram down. Trams are not fitted with the same kind of driver’s safety handle that trains have. Fitting this would be extremely expensive and inappropriate,” said Wolmar, who is Labour’s parliamentary by-election candidate in Richmond Park.

“We must not panic and increase the cost of building and running trams just because of one, incredibly rare and terribly tragic accident.”

Wolmar’s support for the tram network was echoed in remarks by the Tory MP for Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell. The network, Barwell said, is “one of the best things about our borough, we’ve got this incredible, environmentally friendly public transport system that gets people into the town centre very quickly.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, with Croydon councillors Tony Newman and Alison Butler, being briefed by emergency services at the crash scene yesterday

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, with Croydon councillors Tony Newman and Alison Butler, being briefed by emergency services at the crash scene yesterday

“Thousands of my constituents use the service every day so lots of people will be sitting there today thinking, ‘It could have been me on that tram today’.

“What we need is a thorough investigation that explains why the accident happened and some reassurance.”

And Tony Newman, the leader of Croydon Council who visited the site with Mayor Khan yesterday, told BBC Radio London, “There has to be concerns – trams have down the years been one of the safest forms of transport. That’s why it’s imperative that we find out very quickly what caused the accident

“It’s an absolutely tragic day for Croydon. Croydon has a very, very strong sense of community. There’s a lot of people reaching out and offering sympathy.”

TfL’s Brown said: “Clearly something has gone catastrophically wrong and we will work tirelessly and quickly with the emergency services, the tram operator FirstGroup and others to establish the cause. My team will continue to be available in Croydon to assist those affected and the wider community in the area.”

There is a book of condolences open in Croydon Town Hall, and a remembrance service at Croydon Minster on Sunday will include prayers for those who died, have been injured or bereaved.

The council has set up a community assistance centre at the Addington Community Association, in Central Parade, New Addington. “It is being staffed by council officers, the Red Cross and local church and community groups who will be able to offer support, counselling and advice to anyone affected by this tragic event,” according to a council statement.

The police has set up a telephone number for relatives and friends to call: 0800 056 0154.

There is currently no tram service between East Croydon and Addington Village, Harrington Road and Elmers End, and a limited service on the rest of the line. “Services are unlikely to run on this route for the rest of today and tomorrow,” Transport for London has said.

The A232 Addiscombe Road is closed and some buses have been diverted. Tram tickets are accepted on alternative TfL and National Rail services. Additional bus services are running on routes 130, 289, 367 and 466.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Addiscombe, Christian Wolmar, Commuting, East Croydon, Gavin Barwell MP, Sadiq Khan, Sandilands derailment, TfL, Tony Newman, Tramlink, Transport and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Tram driver released on bail as crash investigation continues

  1. “Trams are not fitted with the same kind of driver’s safety handle that trains have. Fitting this would be extremely expensive and inappropriate,”
    Inappropriate? How about: no.

    Like

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