There were 128 speeding incidents recorded on the tram network little more than six months after the Sandilands derailment last November, according to official figures from City Hall.
Seven people were killed and 58 injured when a tram, going faster than the speed limit for that section of track, derailed and overturned on a tight bend near the Sandilands stop on November 9 last year.
Since the tram service resumed, new speed limits and additional speed monitoring has been introduced across the network, which comprises about 27 miles of track between Beckenham Junction, through Croydon and Mitcham, to Wimbledon.
According to figures provided by the Mayor of London to a question from London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, the speeding incidents recorded between November 2016 and the end of June this year have resulted in four cases where disciplinary action has been taken against the drivers.
In one instance, in January/February of this year, a tram was caught travelling at 29 kilometres per hour in the 20kph zone near the site of the Sandilands crash.
Under the increased monitoring system, incidents are recorded when a tram exceeds a speed limit by 5kph – about 3mph. Many of the cases recorded as incidents appear to be occasions at relatively low speed, when the tram has been travelling at around 10mph or so.
The highest speed recorded by a speeding tram in the period was 55kph (35mph), in a 5okph zone near Wandle Park.
In the Sandilands crash, the tram had been travelling at 73kph – about 45mph – in a 20kph (12mph) zone.
Speed monitoring was significantly increased across the tram network in March, and since April there have been no speeding incidents which the tram operators have deemed as requiring any action with their drivers.
In a written response at Mayor’s Questions, Sadiq Khan said, “Transport for London takes extremely seriously any instance of speeding on the network. Safety remains the top priority for TfL and the operator Tram Operations Limited.”
Transport for London owns the Croydon Tramlink infrastructure, with Firstgroup operating the service through its subsidiary, TOL.
Khan’s answer continued: “Following the derailment, TfL carried out a thorough safety assessment and took the advice of an independent panel of tram experts as part of a rigorous safety assurance process before resuming services. TfL introduced additional speed restrictions on the approach at Sandilands and three other bends on the tram network. TfL also installed chevrons at these sites and new digital signs to warn drivers of the speed limit.
“TfL continues to explore the development of in-cab systems for monitoring and managing tram speed.”
The Mayor’s answer was accompanied by a table showing the reports made by TOL of the number of speeding events detected, along with any action taken. You can see the table by clicking here.
According to the Mayor: “Many of the speeding events do not require any action as these are 1 to 3kph over the speed limit and within the allowance for error in the reading. Tram drivers are employed by TOL, and so the outcome of any disciplinary action they take against their employees is confidential to them but in these instances, TfL has been informed whether the driver received a ‘briefing’ or whether ‘action’ was taken.
“The oversight panel established to review the resumption of service following the derailment remains in place to oversee the safety governance system, the mitigations that have been implemented following the derailment, and FirstGroup’s day-to-day safety performance and management arrangements. This comprises senior representatives from FirstGroup and TfL. In particular, TfL continues to monitor the enhanced driver management arrangements FirstGroup have put in place, which includes the more frequent programme of speed checks, fatigue management and counselling.”
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How is it drivers are still able to operate a Tram when sleeping? – and worse still, seemingly the motion of falling asleep actually results in an increase in the speed of the vehicle!
I my humble opinion, the Tram network should be shut down with immediate effect until 2 things are put in place:
1) A “Dead mans handle” that is actually effective and demonstratably provable to be so
2) Physical speed delimiters on Trams that can operate on certain danger zones such as sharps bends (e.g. the Sandilands approach) and long straights (where it appears that drivers are more likely to fall asleep.. )
Personally, I won’t get on a tram again until these 2 things are in place. Fortunately for me, I don’t need to in order to get to work etc – unlike thousands of others who unwillingly continue to endanger their lives each day.
Speed limit signs are of no use to sleeping drivers. So the discussion of speed signs, whilst relevant, is absolutely not a solution.