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Funds for tram safety body ‘being held back by Government’ according to Croydon MP

Funds for tram safety body ‘being held back by Government’ according to Croydon MP
Nov 10, 2018 Shaking Hands 0 comments
This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 09/11/2018.

Funds for tram safety body ‘being held back by Government’ according to Croydon MP

The delay in setting up the safety body has been branded ‘unacceptable’.

Funds for a tram safety body have been held back by the Government, according to Croydon MP Sarah Jones.

Exactly two years after seven died in the Sandlands tram crash, Ms Jones today (November 9) slammed the delay as “unacceptable” in a letter to Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.

The first of 15 recommendations made by the Rail Accident Investigation Board (RAIB) in December 2017 was to set up a dedicated tram safety body to drive improvements across the UK’s tram networks.

Almost a year after the release of the RAIB’s report, Ms Jones has demanded the Government release funding for the new body.

In her letter, the Croydon MP claims the membership of the body’s steering group has existed for months in ‘shadow’ form but cannot operate fully until the Government commits to funding.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said they were working closely with the tram industry and the Office for Rail and Road.

They said: “We have already provided UK Tram, the umbrella body for the industry, with £250,000 to take forward their action plan. We cannot and will not compromise when it comes to passenger safety.

“While final decisions are being made on funding for the Light Rail Safety Board, we have also set up an industry-wide risk model to improve safety, which the tram operators are taking the lead on.”

The Croydon tram crash on November 9, 2016 was the deadliest tram disaster for almost 100 years, since the Dover tram crash of 1917.

Passenger journeys across the UK’s tram networks dropped by 0.2% in 2017/18, the first decrease since 2009/10. Journeys in London dropped 2.1%.

On Friday (November 9), a memorial service will be held in New Addington , where the majority of the victims lived.

The letter in full:

Dear Secretary of State,

On this day two years ago, 9th November 2016, seven people died and 62 were injured in the worst tram crash in almost a century. The Croydon tram crash was the worst rail disaster for 15 years and today our community mourns those who lost their lives.

This week I learned that almost a year since the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report into the crash, the first and most important of the RAIB’s 15 safety recommendations, to create a new tram safety body, has still not been fully implemented due to the Government delaying the funding required to set up the body.

What’s more, an investigation from LBC last week found that here in London, the majority of the RAIB’s recommendations have still not been implemented. These include an automatic braking system, strengthening tram doors and windows, and improving emergency evacuations when a tram is on its side.

Not once has the Government come to the House to respond to the RAIB report or demonstrate a clear plan for implementing its recommendations. Now, almost one year later, we learn that the body which should be driving safety improvements across the UK’s tram networks is still not in full operation.

As you will be aware, the RAIB’s first and foremost recommendation in its report was that: ‘The ORR should work with the UK tram industry to develop a body to enable more effective UK-wide cooperation on matters related to safety, and the development of common standards and good practice guidance.’

This week I learned that the funding needed to bring this new safety body into full operation is still yet to be allocated by Government. This is despite the steering group for the new body being ready in ‘shadow’ form for around six months, and the tram industry (which will be partially funding the new body) already committing to their portion of the funding.

Please could you urgently confirm: why the Government has yet to confirm of funding for the new safety body; what were the reasons for the months-long delay in releasing funding for the new body; and what actions the Government has planned to ensure the remaining RAIB safety recommendations are delivered upon as soon as possible.

I hope you will consider coming to the House to update MPs on this very important issue. We owe it to those who died and those who lost loved ones to ensure a disaster like this never happens again. This delay is unacceptable.

Best wishes,

Sarah Jones MP

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