THE crash of tram No. 2551 on a bend at Sandilands, Croydon on November 9, 2016 was, in all probability, caused by the driver suffering a micro-sleep during a 49-second period when the tram was passing through three consecutive tunnels in the hours of darkness.
That is the view of investigators from RAIB (the Rail Accident Investigation Branch) into the accident in which seven passengers were killed and 61 injured (19 seriously) when the tramcar came off the track and overturned while travelling at 73kph (45mph) on a 20kph (12.5mph) bend.
The tram driver, Alfred Dorris (43), could have been suffering from ‘sleep debt’, an accumulation of lack of sleep, which fatigued him.
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Mr Dorris has said he has no recollection of the moments before the crash.
RAIB has said FirstGroup’s Tram Operations Ltd (TOL) failed to understand the risks, and didn’t put sufficient safety measures in place.
RAIB’s chief inspector Simon French said TOL lacked the understanding of the risk of a vehicle overturning. He said: “It appears there was a gap here. It had been dismissed or thought not to be credible.”
Since the accident, RAIB has conducted detailed and lengthy investigations and concluded new and more stringent safety measures are needed across Britain’s tram networks, especially the intoduction of a device that will – should the driver fail to – reduce speeds at junctions and tight bends.
Read more in January’s issue of The RM – on sale now!