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Tram company fined for crossing death

26 September 2023

A TRAM company has been fined £240,000 following the tragic death of a 53-year-old pedestrian.

Edinburgh Trams Limited, which operates the tramway system on behalf of the City of Edinburgh Council, pled guilty to a breach of health and safety legislation at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 24 August 2023. 

Carlos Correa Palacio, a bus driver, was fatally struck on a tram crossing in the Saughton area of Edinburgh on 11 September 2018 while making his way home from work. 

The tram driver first saw Mr Correa 73 metres from the crossing. 53 metres from the crossing, the driver sounded his bell and began to slow the tram. He sounded the bell three more times over the next 27 metres.   

The driver applied the emergency brake approximately 18 metres from the tram crossing. This caused the tram warning horn to automatically sound.  

Mr Correa had not been aware of the tram until it was too late to get out of its way.  

The advocate depute told the court that there had been no assessment of the foreseeable risk to pedestrians at the Saughton Mains crossing from an approaching tram prior to this incident.  

The criminal investigation found Edinburgh Trams Limited had fail to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the layout of the crossing, and to ensure that it provided sufficient notice and warning to pedestrians of the crossing itself. 

The company failed to assess the loudness of audible warning devices on Edinburgh trams, or the emergency braking distances of trams approaching the crossing in order to identify and implement adequate control measures to address these hazards. 

The absence of any written risk assessment was made worse by the failure to regularly review which meant the original error went unnoticed. A near miss incident at the same crossing in November 2016 was reported but failed to result in any action in relation to the risk assessment. 

The investigation found there were no issues with the tram drivers driving and that he had responded to the situation in accordance with his training. The tram was in working order and the braking system was functional.   

Speaking after the sentencing, Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the COPFS said, “Carlos Correa lost his life in circumstances which could have been avoided had the risks been recognised and appropriate control measures put in place.  

“Edinburgh Trams Limited’s failure to assess the risks posed to pedestrians using the crossing resulted in Mr Correa’s death. 

“This prosecution should remind duty holders that a failure to manage and implement effective measures can have fatal consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure. 

"Our thoughts are with Mr Correa’s family at this difficult time."