Croydon Tram Disaster – Huge Fines Awarded

“Transport for London (TfL) and Tram Operations Limited (TOL) have been hit with significant fines for their health and safety failures that led to the tragic Croydon tram disaster. The court ruled in favor of imposing a £10 million fine on TfL and a £4 million fine on TOL.

The devastating incident occurred on November 9, 2016, when a tram derailed at Sandilands, Croydon, while traveling at three times the prescribed speed limit of 20kph on a sharp corner. The derailment resulted in the loss of seven lives and left 21 others with serious injuries among the 69 passengers on board.

During the trial, the driver of the tram, Alfred Dorris, aged 49 and from Beckenham, south-east London, was acquitted of failing in his duty. He claimed that he had become disoriented and mistakenly believed he was heading in the opposite direction. He attributed the crash to external factors such as poor lighting and inadequate signage in the Sandilands tunnel complex.

Both TfL and TOL admitted to falling short of their health and safety obligations, leading to their sentencing at the Old Bailey. In addition to the fines, they were ordered to pay £234,404 each in costs to the prosecuting authority, the Office of Rail and Road, along with a victim surcharge of £170.

Prior to delivering the sentence, Judge Mr. Justice Fraser stated, “This was undoubtedly an accident waiting to happen, quite literally.” The court learned that warnings regarding the risk of driver disorientation in the Sandiland tunnel network on the approach to the curve were disregarded, including a “near miss” report just days before the tragic crash.

The judge expressed concern about the “complacency” surrounding the inadequate lighting and lack of visual cues in the tunnel, deeming it “disturbing.” Prosecutor Jonathan Ashley-Norman highlighted the existence of “missed opportunities” over the years to address the risks associated with the Sandilands curve, which unfortunately went unaddressed.

The court was informed that there was an “over-reliance on fallible humans,” and tram drivers were let down by their employer, TOL, and by TfL. The outcome of the trial underscores the critical importance of robust safety measures and continuous vigilance in the operation of public transportation systems.”