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£14M in fines for Croydon tram crash failings

04 September 2023

TRANSPORT FOR London (TfL) and Tram Operations Limited (TOL) have been fined a total of £14m at the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) in London following an investigation and prosecution by industry regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Seven people died and many were injured, 19 seriously, when a tram, travelling in poor weather and at three times the speed permitted, overturned approaching Sandilands junction in Croydon on 9 November 2016. Of the 69 passengers on the tram, only one escaped injury.

Each company pleaded guilty to offences alleging that they had failed to do everything that was reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of passengers on the tram network. Neither company had performed a suitable or sufficient assessment of the risks of a high-speed derailment on the network. TfL, which owns and maintains the infrastructure used by the Croydon tram network, was fined a total of £10m. TOL, which operates the network, was fined a total of £4m.

Since the accident, new safety measures and systems have been implemented following recommendations from the Rail Accident Investigations Branch and oversight by ORR. 

These include new systems to prevent trams overspeeding around tight curves, improvements in managing driver attentiveness and more signage and chevrons at the Sandilands curve and at other high-risk areas along the track. 

The tramway sector has also instituted a new safety and standards body, the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board (LRSSB), the purpose of which includes improving the sector’s understanding of risk and setting recognized industry standards.    

Ian Prosser CBE, chief inspector of railways said, “When faced with the evidence of their failure over a number of years, both TfL and TOL accepted that they had not done everything that was reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of their passengers, with terrible consequences on the early morning of 9 November 2016.   

“We must never forget the tragedy of that day, and must strive to learn all of its lessons so there can be no repetition. Our thoughts remain with those whose lives were so affected.  The judge’s remarks and the sentences imposed underline to the corporate defendants and the whole industry that their first responsibility is to ensure the safety of their passengers and staff.

“We welcome the improvements made to the network since the incident. We will continue to scrutinise this vital industry and hold operators to account if they fall short.”