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Transport for London and FirstGroup to admit safety failings over tram crash

Emergency services at the scene of the Croydon tram crash in November 2016 (Steve Parsons/PA)
Emergency services at the scene of the Croydon tram crash in November 2016 (Steve Parsons/PA)

Transport for London (TfL) and FirstGroup-owned Tram Operations Limited (TOL) have indicated they will plead guilty to health and safety failings over the 2016 Croydon tram crash.

Seven passengers died and 51 were injured when a tram derailed in south London.

Friday’s hearing at Croydon Magistrates’ Court was the first to take place in relation to a criminal prosecution regarding the crash.

Croydon tram crash court case
Driver Alfred Dorris arrives at Croydon Magistrates’ Court (James Manning/PA)

Driver Alfred Dorris, 48, of Ravenscroft Road, Beckhenham, south-east London, indicated a not guilty plea to an allegation of failing as an employee to take reasonable care of passengers.

He stood in the dock wearing a navy shirt and black jacket.

District Judge Nigel Dean released him on unconditional bail to appear next at Croydon Crown Court on July 8.

A number of bereaved relatives were in court for the brief hearing.

The victims of the crash were Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, and Philip Logan, 52, all from New Addington, and Donald Collett, 62, and Mark Smith, 35, both from Croydon.

An inquest last year heard that the tram toppled over and spun off the tracks in darkness and heavy rain near the Sandilands stop after approaching a curve at 45mph (73kph) on November 9 2016.

The speed limit for that stretch of track was 12mph (20kph).

Croydon tram crash court case
Investigators at the scene of the tram crash in Croydon, south London, in November 2016 (Steve Parsons/PA)

Services on Croydon Tramlink are managed by TfL and operated by TOL.

Both organisations will be sentenced at Croydon Crown Court on a date to be fixed for failing to ensure the health and safety of passengers, so far as reasonably practicable.

The charge against TOL and TfL says that they failed to ensure passengers “were not exposed to risks to their health or safety, namely the risk of injury or death attendant upon a high speed derailment on the Croydon Tram Network including on the approach to the Sandilands junction”, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The prosecution is being brought by regulator the Office of Rail and Road.

The maximum punishment for convictions over health and safety offences is an unlimited fine and up to two years imprisonment for individuals.

Chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser said their thoughts remain with the bereaved and injured.

He said: “We conducted an extensive, detailed and thorough investigation and took the decision to prosecute all three parties for what we believe to be serious health and safety failings relating to the Croydon tram derailment on November 9 2016, which killed seven passengers with many more seriously injured. All our thoughts are with those people.”

TfL said its indicated guilty plea will enable court proceedings to “come to a conclusion as promptly as possible”.

Andy Lord, TfL’s chief operating officer, said: “The Sandilands tragedy will never be forgotten and our thoughts remain with everyone affected.”