Campaigning by Croydon Central Labour MP Sarah Jones has managed to secure the £1.5million government funding required to establish a Light Rail Safety Standards Board, one of the main improvements recommended by accident investigators following the Sandilands tram crash in November 2016.
“Families and loved ones of the victims of the Croydon tram crash deserved to see urgent work from Government to prevent another tragedy,” Jones told Inside Croydon today.
“But for far too long, our calls for change fell on deaf ears. I’m glad we have finally seen some action from Government and I hope this new body will mean tram safety improvements finally pick up pace.”
The crash close to the Sandilands tram stop on November 9, 2016, was the deadliest tram accident in Britain for almost a century, and the worst rail tragedy for 17 years. Seven people were killed and a further 62 were injured, several with life-changing injuries. At the recent two-year anniversary of the crash, victims’ families expressed concerns that progress on improving safety standards to prevent another tragedy had been too slow.
Today, the Transport Minister confirmed that £1.5million has been allocated to bring the Light Rail Safety Standards Board into operation. It is expected that the new body will drive forward much-needed safety improvements across the tram industry.
It was Jones last November who exposed the Government’s withholding of funds for the LRSSB. In December, Jones held a debate on tram safety in the House of Commons and called again on Ministers to release funding before the end of the year.
Ahead of her December debate, the MP chaired a meeting in Parliament between families of the Croydon tram crash victims and senior Transport for London figures.
While welcoming the news, Jones expressed frustration at the time taken for the Government to act. Until the December debate in Parliament, no Minister had raised the issue or updated MPs on tram safety since the 2016 crash.
The national safety body was the first of 15 recommendations made by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch following the Croydon tram crash. Others include automatic braking and strengthened glass in tram windows.
Jones issued a warning today that progress in delivering the recommendations across the country is still too slow. “There are a host of reforms still needed across the UK’s tram networks,” Jones said.
“These need to happen as a priority. A one-off cash injection is unlikely to be enough to maintain high safety standards for tram passengers in the long-term. I want to see sustained investment and oversight of our trams so that a tragedy never happens again – not just in Croydon but anywhere in the UK.”
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