Transport correspondent JEREMY CLACKSON on an intriguing turn of events over a previously suppressed Transport for London report
Within days of Inside Croydon highlighting the failure of Transport for London to share a safety audit report into driver fatigue with those investigating the 2016 Croydon tram tragedy, TfL decided to make the report public.
In a letter to Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, Gareth Powell, TfL’s new managing director of Surface Transport, wrote, “We made a commitment to publish the report at the conclusion of all ongoing investigations. However, given the current interest, special permission has been sought from the BTP [British Transport Police] and ORR [Office of Rail and Road] to publish it on Friday 16 March despite their investigations continuing.”
The report was not directly concerned with the Sandilands derailment, but examined driver fatigue issues more broadly. Its contents are not particularly surprising, but they do raise some further questions, and further suspicions about why Powell’s predecessor, Leon Daniels, failed to share the report with investigators, including TfL’s own appointed, independent team.
Seven passengers were killed and 61 injured, 19 seriously, when a tram came off the rails at Sandilands in November 2016.
In the months that followed, there were other incidents of seemingly dangerous behaviour on the tram network, including one driver falling asleep at the controls.
TfL’s internal audit report was commissioned in June last year in response to the specific concerns about driver fatigue following an incident recorded by a member of the public on their mobile phone on a tram in Church Street.
“This Internal Report into TOL [Tram Operations Ltd]’s fatigue management was completed on 15 September 2017 and formed part of the discussion at the 22 January Safety, Security and HR (SSHR) Panel, which had been specially convened to address the RAIB investigation and SNC Lavalin (SNCL) report.” SNC Lavalin being the independent investigators appointed by TfL.
However, at a meeting of the SSHR panel held on the 11th Floor of TfL’s Palestra headquarters on June 26 last year, Daniels suggested that fatigue issues had already been fully examined by TfL.
The minutes of that meeting (which refer to tram operator TOL’s owners, FirstGroup) state, “An audit of FirstGroup’s fatigue management processes had taken place, these were found to be satisfactory and did not give rise to any concerns. FirstGroup continued to look at fatigue management matters.”
Why was Leon Daniels (who has since left his TfL role) making such claims in June 2017, when the TfL internal audit was only completed in September 2017?
Why was the internal audit report not sent immediately to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch? TfL now suggests that the failure to share their report was just an “administrative error”.
One well-placed City Hall source has told Inside Croydon, “RAIB were undertaking a major inquiry and an important piece of research was not shared with them in a timely manner.
“This is a huge oversight and to just describe it as an ‘administrative error’ is incredible.”
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