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Driver fatigue detection to be retrofitted on London trams

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Transport for London has pledged to roll out an ‘in-cab vigilance system’ to all trams on its Croydon Tramlink network by this Autumn following last November’s fatal derailment near Sandilands Junction.

The technology – which is currently being trialled ­– will alert the driver immediately if it detects signs of distraction or fatigue and apply brakes if “no driver activity is detected” for a period. Work on an alert system for monitoring and managing tram speed is also underway.

This latest update from TfL comes after the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, which is still investigating last year’s incident, issued a draft set of key recommendation areas to UK tram operators.

These include provision of active tram protection to prevent serious accidents due to excessive speed at high risk locations, and research into active means of detecting the attention state of drivers and intervening in the event of inattention.

The RAIB’s upcoming final report on the Tramlink incident is also expected to highlight the importance of ensuring the availability of in-tram CCTV systems.

Seven people suffered fatal injuries and a further 51 were taken to hospital as a result of the derailment which saw the tram overturn on a bend. Early conclusions from the RAIB suggest that the driver’s failure to apply emergency braking indicates that he had lost awareness as he was approaching the left hand curve.

Responding to the RAIB’s latest recommendations, London’s transport commissioner Mike brown commented: “Our thoughts remain with all those affected by the tragic tram derailment and we continue to do all we can to offer our support.

“Since the incident we have introduced a number of additional safety measures to the tram network, including additional speed restrictions, enhanced speed monitoring, new signage for drivers and an upgrade of the CCTV recording system.”

Additional line-side digital signage has been introduced to provide added speed warnings to drivers.

Mike Brown added: “We continue to work with the wider tram industry on these improvements and will consider any further measures that could be introduced to improve safety. We also continue to work with the RAIB and will take on board all recommendations from this and the other investigations that are underway.”

Photo: TfL