I have been encouraged by the news today from Transport for London (TfL) about plans to install a new automatic braking system on the network as part of safety measures designed to prevent a repeat of the Croydon tram crash disaster, which happened in November 2016.
I understand it will see the brakes automatically applied if a tram exceeds the speed limit at particular locations that have been identified as being of high risk.
The system would also automatically alert the operations control centre.
Having represented and recently settled a damages claim on behalf of a client who lost her husband of more than 20 years in the disaster, I have obviously been close to all investigations into the matter, and the safety failings which have been uncovered.
At the risk of using clichés, this had been an accident waiting to happen, and it has been somewhat surprising to learn that better safety measures and systems were not in place to provide protection.
At the time of the crash, there were no automatic braking mechanisms (as there had been for railways) and the trams did not contain safety glass (other than the glass around the driver’s cab).
This meant that when the tram crashed, the glass in the windows smashed, causing passengers to be thrown out of the tram and crushed by the vehicle as it slid along the ground.
Obviously, significant changes such as new automatic braking systems are not easy or quick to introduce.
It appears that it will be some time before any new system will be installed, as the project has been put out to tender and the contract may not be awarded until the end of this year, with the work to begin thereafter.
However, this is a positive step which, when functioning, will make the tram network safer for those travelling on it on a daily basis, and the many communities it travels through.