I just read on my BBC news app that the tram which derailed and overturned in Croydon, South London recently, was travelling at 43.5 mph, which is three and a half times the speed limit of 12mph on that particular part of the track. In fact the driver had reduced his speed from 50mph. Seven people were killed, and many injured. The lives of seven families were changed forever in an instant.
The British Transport Police are running a criminal investigation, and looking at reports that the driver blacked out or fell asleep. The driver has been arrested and released on bail. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is looking at the technical side and why the tram was going too fast.
To a lay person like me, it is obvious that yes, the driver was at fault, but there also should have been some kind of speed-limiter on the tram, or some kind of mechanism to stop a driver exceeding the speed limit. The designers of the tram are at fault here too.
Many of the 60+ passengers on the tram that day came from New Addington, which mostly consists of a large housing estate where my husband grew up. If he had still been living there, then he could have been on that tram, or members of the family. It brought home to me how precious life is.
Some drivers of course will exceed speed limits on the roads if they think they are not going to be caught. However, this tram driver had the lives of over 60 people in his hands. If somebody driving a car speeds, then it’s their own fault if they have a crash and injure themselves, but something must be put in place to safeguard passengers on public transport, because they have no control over the vehicle they are travelling in.