An interim report into the Croydon tram derailment should be published this week, while the longer-term investigation is likely to consider whether automated braking systems can be used on trams, a minister has said.
Gavin Barwell, who is both minister for London and MP for the area where the accident happened, told MPs that the last few days had been the toughest in his six and a half years as an MP. Six of the seven people killed in last Wednesday's crash were his constituents.
Mr Barwell offered his ‘profound thanks’ to staff from London’s emergency services, Transport for London, and the Rail Accident Investigation Board (RAIB) ‘for their professionalism and dedication in the most difficult circumstances’, and thanked local hospital staff. He also thanked London mayor Sadiq Khan for his support.
The minister told MPs that the RAIB is carrying out a major investigation ‘to ensure that the relevant lessons are learned to improve safety and prevent a similar accident from occurring’ and intends to publish an initial report this week.
He added that although the RAIB’s final report will take months to produce, ‘if urgent safety learning comes to light during the investigation, this will be published without delay’.
The British Transport Police and safety regulator the Office of Rail and Road are carrying out parallel investigations.
Labour’s shadow minister for London, Andy Slaughter, referred to the overall good safety record of trams but stressed need for the investigation to look for any organisational or individual errors and whether there was ‘any prior evidence or concern that such an event was possible or likely’.
He also asked about the possible introduction of automated braking systems on trams, similar to those used on the Docklands Light Railway.
In response, Mr Barwell said that as trams run both on road and rails they cannot have the same kind of signalling systems as trains.
He added: ‘However, there is a legitimate question about sections of the route where trams run on rails and are akin to trains, and I am sure that that will be one of the issues addressed in the investigation.’
Mr Barwell said that ‘if recommendations are made during the course of the RAIB’s work, the Government will of course give them urgent and very careful consideration and make sure that all necessary steps are taken’.