The inquest into the deaths of the seven people killed when a tram derailed at Sandilands Junction on the dark morning of Wednesday November 9 2016 will finally get underway at the Town Hall today.
Of the 70 people on board the tram at the time of the crash, seven died and 62 were injured, 19 seriously.
The Senior Coroner for Croydon, Sarah Ormond-Walsh, will sit with a jury to hear the evidence relating to the deaths of Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Logan, 52, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, and Robert Huxley, 63, all from New Addington, and Mark Smith, 35, and Donald Collett, 62, from Croydon.
The inquest has been long-delayed caused by police investigations into the circumstances surrounding the crash, and was postponed last year because of the difficulties in staging the court proceedings with a jury during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ben Posford, partner at London law firm Osbornes Law, is lead solicitor for five of the seven families. “This has been a long and agonising wait for all the families,” he said today.
“We believe they were badly let down by the tram operators, Tram Operations Limited, a subsidiary of First Group, and Transport for London.
“As such, the families’ hope for the inquest is that it will give them a better understanding, and some long-overdue answers, as to why their loved ones are no longer here.
“Importantly, they also want to make sure that lessons are learned, and changes made in relation to the systemic failures and poor management culture that led to the crash, so that nothing like this can happen again.”
Posford has instructed one of the UK’s leading personal injury and inquest lawyers, Andrew Ritchie QC, who says: “The five families hope for a full and fearless coronial investigation of the causes and all parties owe it to the families to expose the truth about how and in what circumstances the crash on November 9 2016 was allowed to occur.
“This inquest is about the inherent and foreseeable human failings of public transport drivers and how ToL and TfL failed to take safety measures to prevent disasters arising from such human failings.
“It is very disappointing to the families that the driver of the tram has been diagnosed unfit to attend the inquest, but they still hope that they will hear an apology from him,” Ritchie said.
Ritchie also confirmed that civil claims on behalf of the families have been settled with TfL and their insurers, QBE. Ritchie said they had “…acted impeccably and swiftly” to settle the bereaved families’ compensation claims.
During the inquest, the coroner and the jury will hear from the Rail Accident Investigation Board, the British Transport Police and witnesses from some of the interested parties including the tram operator ToL and London Trams, which being part of TfL was responsible for the tramway infrastructure.
RAIB concluded that the driver either fell asleep or became disorientated in the Sandilands tunnel. They also concluded that ToL’s risk assessments and safety precautions against their drivers’ human failings were inadequate.
TfL appointed SNC-Lavalin to carry out an independent report into the crash. That report and recommendations can be viewed here.
Jury selection will take place today. Pen Portraits will be read by the families in person tomorrow.
Read more: No one to blame. Or no one cares? Tram crash case dropped
Read more: TfL safety audit kept secret from crash investigators
Read more: Driver of crashed tram ‘too unwell’ to give evidence at inquest
Read more: TfL considered cancelling tram contract after 2016 crash
- You can support Inside Croydon’s news-breaking independent local journalism. Sign up today as a subscriber. Click here
- What’s on inside Croydon: Click here for the latest events listings, powered by Now Croydon
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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