Government has withheld funding for new tram safety body

Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones has discovered that the Tory Government has delayed releasing funds to establish a tram safety body, two years after the tram crash which killed seven people and injured 62 others at Sandilands tram stop.

Sandilands, Nov 2016: two years on, a tram safety body has yet to be funded by the Government

The dedicated tram safety body was the first of 15 recommendations made in a report by the Rail Accident Investigation Board last December.

Jones has called the continuing delay in funding a dedicated tram safety body as “unacceptable”. She has called on transport secretary Chris Grayling to explain the delay to the House of Commons.

Today is the second anniversary of the Croydon tram crash, in which Dane Chinnery, Donald Collett, Robert Huxley, Philip Logan, Dorota Rynkiewicz, Philip Seary and Mark Smith died after an early-morning tram from New Addington derailed when travelling at nearly four times the speed limit on a bend in the track out of the Lloyd Park tunnel. The Croydon crash was the deadliest tram accident in Britain for almost 100 years.

Yesterday, families of the tram crash victims criticised the ongoing delay in launching an inquest into the disaster.

In her letter to Grayling, Jones wrote: “Today, our community mourns those who lost their lives.

Chris Grayling: failed to explain delays in implementing tram safety recommendations

“This week I learned that almost a year since the Rail Accident Investigation Branch report into the crash, the first and most important of the RAIB’s 15 safety recommendations, to create a new tram safety body, has still not been fully implemented due to the Government delaying the funding required to set up the body.

“What’s more, an investigation from LBC last week found that here in London, the majority of the RAIB’s recommendations have still not been implemented. These include an automatic braking system, strengthening tram doors and windows, and improving emergency evacuations when a tram is on its side.

“Not once has the Government come to the House to respond to the RAIB report or demonstrate a clear plan for implementing its recommendations. Now, almost one year later, we learn that the body which should be driving safety improvements across the UK’s tram networks is still not in full operation.

“As you will be aware, the RAIB’s first and foremost recommendation in its report was that: ‘The ORR should work with the UK tram industry to develop a body to enable more effective UK-wide cooperation on matters related to safety, and the development of common standards and good practice guidance.’

Sarah Jones MP: has called on Grayling to address the Commons over delays on tram safety

“This week I learned that the funding needed to bring this new safety body into full operation is still yet to be allocated by Government. This is despite the steering group for the new body being ready in ‘shadow’ form for around six months, and the tram industry (which will be partially funding the new body) already committing to their portion of the funding.

“Please could you urgently confirm: why the Government has yet to confirm of funding for the new safety body; what were the reasons for the months-long delay in releasing funding for the new body; and what actions the Government has planned to ensure the remaining RAIB safety recommendations are delivered upon as soon as possible.

“I hope you will consider coming to the House to update MPs on this very important issue. We owe it to those who died and those who lost loved ones to ensure a disaster like this never happens again. This delay is unacceptable.”

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