Croydon tram crash: TfL to be prosecuted over 'health and safety failings'

24 March 2022, 08:13 | Updated: 24 March 2022, 09:10

TfL is being prosecuted over the incident.
TfL is being prosecuted over the incident. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Transport for London (TfL) is being prosecuted over the 2016 Croydon tram crash, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has announced.

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FirstGroup-owned Tram Operations Limited (TOL) and the driver, Alfred Dorris, are being prosecuted for alleged health and safety failings relating to the crash too.

Seven passengers died and 51 were injured when the tram derailed in Croydon, south London on November 9 2016.

The victims were: Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, and Philip Logan, 52, all from New Addington, and Donald Collett, 62, and Mark Smith, 35, both from Croydon.

The chief inspector of railways, Ian Prosser, said: "My thoughts are with the families of the seven people who lost their lives on November 9 2016, the many more injured and everyone whose lives have been impacted as a result of this incident.

"Following a detailed and thorough investigation, we've taken the decision to prosecute Transport for London, Tram Operations Limited and driver Alfred Dorris for what we believe to be health and safety failings.

"We've made a fair, independent and objective assessment about what happened, and it is now for the court to consider if any health and safety law has been breached."

A Transport for London spokesperson, said: "We will never forget Dane Chinnery, Donald Collett, Robert Huxley, Philip Logan, Dorata Rynkiewicz, Philip Seary and Mark Smith, who lost their lives in the Sandilands tragedy.

"Our thoughts remain with those injured and the families and friends of everyone involved and we remain committed to supporting everyone affected any way we possibly can.

"We are aware that the Office of Rail and Road will shortly be issuing criminal proceedings against TfL, Tram Operations Limited and the driver of the tram following the completion of its investigation into the derailment. We will consider those proceedings once we receive them.

"Safety will always be our highest priority and we continue to review our operations and to work with the wider tram industry to introduce any further measures that may benefit the people who rely on our services."

It comes after an inquest held last year heard the tram toppled over and spun off the tracks in darkness and heavy rain near the Sandilands stop after hitting a curve at 73kph (45mph).

The speed limit for that stretch of track was 20kph (12mph).

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Flowers left at the scene near the tram crash in Croydon
Flowers left at the scene near the tram crash in Croydon. Picture: Alamy

Services on Croydon Tramlink are managed by TfL and operated by TOL.

Both are alleged to have "failed to ensure the health and safety of passengers on the Croydon Tramlink network, so far as reasonably practicable", the ORR said.

Mr Dorris is accused of an alleged failure to "take reasonable care of passengers".

Simon French, chief inspector of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, said Mr Dorris may have slipped into a period of "microsleep" ahead of the curve.

During police interviews, Mr Dorris said he was "confused" but, when asked if he had fallen asleep, he replied: "No, no, no."

He was arrested at the scene but, in October 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said he would not be charged with manslaughter due to a lack of evidence.

The CPS also said corporate manslaughter charges would not be brought against TfL or TOL.

Engineering work carried out at the scene of the tram crash.
Engineering work carried out at the scene of the tram crash. Picture: Alamy

The jury at the inquest also found that the victims died as a result of an accident, and were not unlawfully killed.

The foreman of the jury said: "The tram driver became disorientated, which caused loss of awareness in his surroundings, probably due to a lack of sleep.

"As a result of which, the driver failed to brake in time and drove his tram towards a tight curve at excessive speed.

"The tram left the rails and overturned onto its right side, as a result of which the deceased was ejected from the tram and killed."

A hearing for the health and safety prosecutions will be held at Croydon Magistrates' Court.

A date will be set shortly.