Speed sign at Croydon tram crash visible too late


A new report into the Croydon tram crash has found issue with signage along the route, which failed to provide timely warnings to drivers.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) found that a speed limit sign for the bend where the accident happened was only visible around 100 metres after the point at which a driver would need to start braking.


This is the second interim report into last November's crash, in which seven people died when an early morning tram operated on behalf of Transport for London was derailed on a tight bend as it approached Sandilands Junction.

However, the report also states that the service brake was not applied until around two and a half seconds before the tram reached the sign and suggests that the driver had lost awareness that he was approaching the bend. 

The tram was travelling at such speed that several of the victims were found to have been thrown through windows. 

The RAIB’s analysis of the tram’s data recorder shows that the tram was travelling at a speed of approximately 46 mph as it reached the bend, which had a maximum permitted speed of 13 mph.

The report states that a tram approaching the bend at 50mph - a speed permitted for that section of the track - would need to brake at its full service rate around 180 metres before the speed restriction sign in order to be travelling at 13 mph when it was reached.

However, the RAIB assessed that drivers approaching the bend in darkness in clear conditions can sight the curve and read the speed restriction sign from around 90 metres with headlights on main beam, and from around 60 metres with dipped beam.

This is therefore about 90-120 metres after the point at which braking should begin.

The report also notes that at the time of the accident the readability of the speed restriction sign is likely to have been adversely affected by heavy rain.

It adds: ‘There was no sign to indicate to drivers where they should begin to apply the brake for the Sandilands curve; they were expected to know this from their knowledge of the route.’

London Transport Commissioner Mike Brown said 'Our thoughts remain with all those affected by the tragic tram derailment and we continue to do all we can to offer our support.

He added: 'In January this year we installed chevron signs at four sites with significant bends including Sandilands to provide an additional visual cue for drivers.’

An earlier report found no evidence of any fault with the braking system or the track.

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