Passengers ‘flung around as if in a washing machine’ during Croydon tram crash

  • london
  • May 17, 2023
  • Comments Off on Passengers ‘flung around as if in a washing machine’ during Croydon tram crash
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Passengers in the Croydon tram disaster said they were ‘flung around’ as if they were inside a washing machine as their driver tried to take a curve at more than three times the speed limit.

Tram driver Alfred Dorris is on trial over the crash on November 9 2016, in which seven people were killed and 19 more were seriously injured.

Dorris, 49, is accused of failing to take ‘reasonable care’ of the health and safety of himself and his passengers.

The trial started at the Old Bailey today and prosecutor Jonathan Ashley-Norman KC said: ‘The seven deaths on the Croydon tram system that morning are likely to persist in the memory of all those who were adults in the UK on that day.’

Tram 2551 was driving a route from New Addington to Wimbledon via East Croydon.

When approaching Sandilands drivers must reduce speed to 20kmph due to a sharp left turn – and there is a sign on the bend confirming it.

However the tram was travelling ‘in excess of 70kmph’ when it entered the turn.

Mr Ashley-Norman added: ‘At that speed it could not hope to hold the track. The inner wheels lifted from the track and the tram derailed.

‘It tipped onto its side, causing those inside to be flung around as though, as one survivor put it, they were inside a washing machine.

‘Windows smashed and doors were ripped off. Those who died were ejected through the broken windows and trapped between the overturned tram and the track.

‘In a matter of seconds, tragedy was visited upon seven families who were bereaved, and many others who were seriously injured.

‘For a want of attention on the part of the driver involved that morning, death and serious injury followed.’

The court heard there is no dispute that driver Dorris, of Beckenham in south east London, was responsible for the crash.

When interviewed following the crash he said he had become ‘confused’ and ‘disoriented’ but denied falling asleep or suffering a blackout.

Dorris added: ‘I just remember coming over all disorientated like I just weren’t sure, you know, where I was.

‘I was confused and then I got it in my head I was going eastbound towards Lloyd Park direction.

‘I was upset, confused, you know, traumatised. I weren’t sure what, to be honest with you, I wasn’t sure what actually happened. It just sort of crept up on me.’

Sleep experts are set to tell the jury, later in the trial, that the tram driver probably had a ‘micro-sleep’.

But Mr Ashley-Norman says whether Dorris fell asleep or not isn’t the issue: it’s whether he took reasonable care for the safety of his passengers.

Describing the crash as an ‘accident waiting to happen’, he added: ‘Mr Dorris was not solely responsible for health and safety failures at Sandilands.

‘Others, principally Transport for London (TfL) and Tram Operations Limited (ToL) also failed in the discharge of their health and safety duties in the running of the Croydon tram network.

‘However, their failures do not exonerate Mr Dorris.’

Dorris denies a single charge of failing to take reasonable care at work under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The trial before Mr Justice Fraser is set to last five weeks.

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