May 6, 2013 | Mark Paradies

Press Release from the UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch: Incident involving a tram operating with doors open in Croydon, 13 April 2013

 Cms Resources 130413 Croydon
Image showing a tram on the Croydon network

The RAIB is investigating an incident in which a tram departed from two consecutive tram stops in Croydon with all four doors on one side open. Nobody was injured in the incident, but passengers were standing in the vicinity of the open doors and there was the potential for a serious accident to occur.

The tram involved was operating a service between West Croydon and Beckenham Junction. During the first part of its journey the tram was delayed on a number of occasions due to a succession of fault indications in the cab alerting the driver to a possible problem with a parking brake on one of the tram’s bogies. On each occasion the driver spoke to the controller and, after receiving instructions on how to deal with the fault, was able to continue the journey.

At some point during this early part of the journey it is believed that a switch was operated in the driving cab which had the effect of by-passing some safety systems on the tram, including the door interlocking arrangements that would normally prevent the tram from moving with one or more doors open.

At Lebanon Road tram stop, there was further dialogue between the tram driver and the controller. The tram then departed with all four doors on the left-hand side open and reached a maximum speed of 27 km/h (17 mph) while travelling towards Sandilands tram stop. At some point between the two stops, three of the four doors closed automatically, as they are designed to do after remaining open for two minutes.

At Sandilands, with the driver and controller unaware of the problem with the doors, they focused on dealing with the parking brake fault. The tram departed from Sandilands with all of the left-hand doors open again. By this stage, the controller was monitoring the tram’s departure on CCTV and noticed that the doors were open. He immediately contacted the driver and instructed him to stop. The driver then closed the doors and the tram was taken out of service at the next stop.

The RAIB’s investigation will identify the sequence of events that led to the incident. In particular, it will focus on:

– the content and application of procedures for dealing with faults on trams;
– the design, configuration and labelling of controls, indicators and other equipment within the driving cab of the tram involved in the incident; and
– the training and monitoring of tram drivers and controllers with a particular emphasis on fault handling.

The RAIB’s investigation is independent of any investigation by the safety authority (the Office of Rail Regulation).

The RAIB will publish its findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of its investigation. This report will be available on the RAIB website.

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