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Trams & Trump: who is to blame?

The 9th November 2016 will be remembered by many as the day a very controversial person became the elected president of the USA. For me, it will be the day seven Londoners died in a tram accident, a tram that had the ability to carry only 70 passengers seated and 138 people standing.

Tram vs trump image

I live in South East London and often suffer Southern Rail’s terrible service, so cancelled trains and disrupted travel is the norm for me. However, as I arrived at the bus stop on Wednesday morning (seven miles from Croydon), I knew something was wrong. Traffic gridlock, all of my usual trains cancelled or severely delayed and the public transport available was even more overcrowded than usual.

Then I heard that a tram had overturned in Croydon. My initial thought was “that’s what’s causing all of this palaver”, with little inkling of the tragic loss of human life which had just taken place.

Seven people are dead and many more - critically ill.

The driver is being questioned for manslaughter charges.

The Potters Bar train crash also killed seven, but it was four carriages long and travelling at 98 MPH.

Investigations suggest that the tram was exceeding the 12mph speed limit and that the tight bend, which follows a tunnel where trams reach speeds of 50mph, gives the driver minimal time to reduce speed.  

Yes, the driver may have blacked out or maybe he fell asleep but despite this, the lives lost seems disproportionate to the size and the speed of the vehicle.

So who is at fault?

The automotive and aerospace industries are known for rigorous safety measures and vehicle testing. I have recruited for many manufacturing businesses over the last few years but yesterday I realised I am not overly familiar with the manufacturing of train, tube or tram carriages.

I know my network will likely have some thoughts on the many questions I have about the lives lost on the 9th November 2016. I know I am not the only one who would be interested to hear your thoughts on the below questions.     

  1. Are trams, trains or tube carriages tested in the same way an aeroplane or car might be?
  2. Why is there no maximum speed limit on a tram?
  3. Does the number of deaths in this accident seem disproportionate to the number of passengers being carried?
  4. Once a tram, train or tube carriage is refitted/refurbished, does it get tested further?
  5. Is over crowding on trains, tubes and trams putting all commuters at risk of this being a more frequent event?
  6. What can train manufacturers and rail/tube/tram operators do to prevent this from EVER happening again?

My thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their loved ones and my prayers are willing all the injured a speedy recovery.

Claire Lauder is the Director of Manufacturing and Engineering.

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