TfL considered cancelling tram contract after 2016 crash

A rescue worker at the tram crash site at Sandilands in November 2016

Transport for London considered cancelling its operating contract with Tram Operations Limited to run the Croydon tram network in the aftermath of 2016’s fatal crash, City AM has reported.

City AM says it has obtained TfL documents showing that they received legal advice on whether it could cancel the 30-year deal while carrying out an audit of the network.

The derailment took place on the morning of November 9, 2016, on a curve in the track close to the Sandilands tram stop. Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Logan, 52, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, Mark Smith, 35, and Donald Collett, 62, were all killed in the crash. The crash left 61 people injured, after the worst tram disaster in Britain for a century.

Inside Croydon has reported before on the suspicious circumstances around the withholding and delay regarding the driver fatigue audit.

Internal documents have revealed a TfL safety audit that looked at faults in the fatigue management of TOL had key criticisms removed. TOL, a division of FirstGroup, complained that a report on safety practices produced eight months after the crash was “too negative”.

Now City AM has obtained further documents which state that TfL officials complained that TOL had failed to cooperate with their investigations into the crash.

TfL’s legal advice was that it was entitled to terminate TOL’s contract if the company was found to be either in “material and serious default” or had committed “persistent breach” of conditions.

City AM reports, “But, the note went on, it would be ‘difficult to enforce’ the right to end the contract ‘in practice’.

“An attempt to break the contract on the condition ‘material and serious default’, it said, could be triggered by ‘evidence of systemic failure’ – although TOL would first have the opportunity to ‘remedy the breach or agree a remediation plan’.”

The report fails to say why a crash that killed seven passengers was not considered to be “evidence of systemic failure”. Nor did the legal advice acknowledge that TOL had been investigated 10 times for collisions and derailments in the decade before the Sandilands crash.

The legal advice, City AM reports, considered a negotiated exit of the contract with TOL, which it estimated might cost TfL between £5million and £15million in compensation for early termination.

The legal note said, “It should be expected that their appetite to engage will be affected by their view of the reputational damage that an early exit might generate.”

The inquest into the deaths of the passengers in the 2016 tram crash was due to have begun at Croydon Town Hall late last year, but has been twice postponed because of coronavirus considerations.


  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com
  • Inside Croydon is a member of the Independent Community News Network
  • Inside Croydon works together with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC London News
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named the country’s rottenest borough in 2020 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine – the fourth successive year that Inside Croydon has been the source for such award-winning nominations
  • Inside Croydon: 3million page views in 2020. Seen by 1.4million unique visitors

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 Sandilands derailment, TfL, Tramlink, Transport and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to TfL considered cancelling tram contract after 2016 crash

  1. Lewis White says:

    “Internal documents have revealed a TfL safety audit that looked at faults in the fatigue management of TOL had key criticisms removed. TOL, a division of FirstGroup, complained that a report on safety practices produced eight months after the crash was “too negative”.

    Clearly, the report had been amended or “redacted” ie censored.

    With the scandal of Grenfell Tower, and the admitted / apparent interference with fire safety testing regimes by individuals, which must have had the tacit accepance by employers, the manufacturing companies, I am wondering if there should be a specific offence, punishable with a significant prison sentence , of falsification or alteration of safety tests, test results, data, safety reports, and the like on materials, equipment working procedures, maintenance procdures, accident investiagtins and reports and the like.

    I hope that UK law makers look at the whole subject of accident investigation as well as fire safety, and testing.

Leave a Reply